‘Dementia’s not a death sentence’: Irish charity raises concerns over ‘frightening’ Alzheimer’s Society advert

‘Dementia’s not a death sentence’: Irish charity raises concerns over ‘frightening’ Alzheimer’s Society advert

A NEW advert released by the Alzheimer’s Society has caused concerns within an organisation supporting Irish people living with dementia in Britain.

Released last week, the charity’s latest advertising campaign centres on their video The Long Goodbye.

It features a man giving a eulogy at the funeral of his mother, who has died following a lengthy battle with dementia.

During his speech he tells mourners that his mum ‘didn’t die once’ and went on to list the many times ‘she died’ over the years as she slowly deteriorated from the disease.

The Alzheimer's Society advert features a man giving the eulogy at his mother's funeral

This week the Irish in Britain organisation - which operates a successful Cuimhne dementia programme serving Irish people living with the condition across the country – has lodged a complaint with the Alzheimer’s Society regarding the content of their advert, which they believe presents a “frightening and negative” image of people who have the condition.

“The Cuimhne team at Irish in Britain is concerned about the recent Alzheimer’s Society TV advert, The Long Goodbye and have expressed our concerns to the society,” they told The Irish Post this week.

“We do not deny that the issues raised occur, but we worry that the ad is in danger of reinforcing the negative and frightening images people have of dementia,” they added.

“We are concerned that it may result in people backing away in fear rather than seeking diagnosis.”

The controversial advert tells viewers 'with dementia you don't just die once'

IIB, which is an umbrella organisation for Irish clubs, societies and centres across the country, is also worried that viewers who are in the early stages of dementia may be caused to “worry about the burden they place on family” or that families may “panic that they will have to face this “burden” alone, without the skills or resources to do what the person they love deserves”.

“By contrast, the Cuimhne message is that dementia is not a death sentence,” the IIB explained.

“People can live well with dementia for long periods of time, with the help and support of their families and community."

The new advert is criticised for portraying a 'frightening' image of living with dementia

Responding to the complaints, Alzheimer’s Society CEO Kate Lee told the Irish Post their advert “tells the unvarnished truth about the devastation caused by dementia”.

“It’s not an easy watch but it’s an important one,” she added, explaining that “we don’t like talking about end-of-life, death and dying – but we have to get better at talking about it”.

“Every time we shy away from talking about it, we give policy makers and decision makers cover to ignore dementia and take action on something else,” she said.

“It’s just not good enough, dementia isn’t the priority it should be, and we can’t put up with it anymore.”

IIB has called on any members of the Irish community who have found the advert upsetting to make contact.

“If you have seen the advert and are worried, the Cuimhne team encourages you to get in touch," they said.

“We have a positive message to share. There are things which can help us to live well for as long as possible with dementia and to support those caring for people in our community.”

IIB offers resources on its website to support family carers and people living with dementia.