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Intouch : In Touch Issue 77
10 In touch Winter 2011 www.alzheimers.org.au Well-loved international media identity Sir Michael Parkinson CBE called for spending on dementia research to be dramatically increased and spoke about the importance of treating people with dementia with dignity in a heartfelt, powerful and thought-provoking speech at an Alzheimer’s Australia NSW event. Sir Michael, who is an Honorary Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, was speaking at a sold-out fundraising lunch on 25 February at NSW Parliament House. Sir Michael’s mother had dementia and he has been a passionate advocate for better care for people in hospital and in aged care facilities, most recently as the National Dignity Ambassador for the British Government’s Dignity in Care Campaign. Spending During the address, in which he spoke about his beloved mother Freda and her experience with dementia, Sir Michael also spoke about the need for more spending on dementia research. “You could spend as much, of course, on dementia research as you do on cancer research. You could spend as much as you do on heart research,” he said. “In England, I think there’s something like 50 million pounds spent on dementia research and 580 million on cancer research. “I’m not denying cancer research [is important] but this seems to be disproportionate, given what we’ve been talking about today – a growing problem that we don’t actually seem to recognise in terms of research and finding a cure for this disease. “It’s an indication that again we’re paying lip service to it but in the end nothing practical is done,” he said. “But the ultimate must be a cure. We know the only way around that is money.” Dignity in care Sir Michael also spoke of the need to treat older people with much more dignity and respect. “We treat old people as unworthy of our time and consideration,” he said. “If we treated young people the way we treated old people, there’d be an outcry, a revolution, and quite rightly so. In Britain, a campaign called Dignity in Care was started that changed those kinds of attitudes towards that person in that bed, that person in that corner, that decrepit soul. “I think that maybe when I was growing up society demanded you had a greater respect for older people than occurs today. So while we’re talking about changing culture within the care service, I think we also need to change the culture within our society. Stand on DIGNITY Sir Michael Parkinson spoke of bringing dignity to dementia care at an Alzheimer’s Australia NSW fundraising lunch in February. COVER FEATURE
In Touch Issue 76
In Touch Issue 78