Carey Mulligan takes on global ambassador role for dementia charity
Actress Carey Mulligan has revealed her family's struggle with dementia as she takes on a new global role to raise awareness of the devastating disease.
Carey Mulligan is the U.K.'s first global dementia ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society and British government.
The Oscar-nominated actress was appointed Global Dementia Friends Ambassador on Tuesday (16Aug16) by the charity and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and her new role will see her draw attention to the importance of making communities dementia-friendly.
Dementia is caused when a person's brain function begins to decline, and is damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer's, or a series of strokes. Symptoms may include memory loss, difficulties with doing day-to-day tasks, or a change in language, including slurred speech.
In an interview with the BBC, the mother-of-one revealed her grandmother Margaret, known as Nans, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around 16 years ago. "Nans has had dementia now for about 16 years, so she's in a quite advanced stage," she explained.
"It's been, at various stages, confusing, and saddening, but it's also given us (her family) the opportunity to meet really amazing people who dedicate their lives to working with people who suffer from dementia."
Mulligan is hoping her new role will renew focus on the Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friends programme, and encourage people to make society a more dementia-friendly one.
"I'm excited for more people to get involved. For us to have a more dementia-friendly, warm society, and to take all of this and go global with it," Mulligan told the BBC.
The actress, who was nominated for her role in 2009's An Education, shared her fears at getting the disease, which can be hereditary. "I do have a fear (of getting dementia). I also have a great confidence in the work that's being done to find drugs to tackle it and to cure it," she said.
"And we also need to know there are ways to live well with Alzheimer's. So, as much as there is a fear to it, in certain families where it's (dementia) has been through several generations, we are also trying to build a better society for people who do live with dementia."
Of the stigma attached to the devastating disease, she said, "I get frustrated to really casual references to people, and it happens all the time. Where, you'll be having a conversation with someone who'll refer to an elderly relative as some who's 'lost their marbles'.
"It's these very casual phrases, but they often are describing someone who has a condition, and it's just not treated in the same way other diseases are. So, that's always wound me up," she shared. "I think there's a natural fear (of dementia), and I think it's something we should talk about more. For such a long time, it always felt like a taboo subject, and I think that's gradually changing."
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