Alzheimer's Society

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The Alzheimer's Society logo

Alzheimer’s Society is a United Kingdom care and research charity for people with dementia and their carers. It operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,[1] while its sister charities Alzheimer Scotland and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland cover Scotland and the Republic of Ireland respectively.

Despite its name, the charity does not exclusively help people with Alzheimer's disease. There are many types of dementia, which is an umbrella term. Dementia types include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, Korsakoff's syndrome, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, HIV related cognitive impairment, mild cognitive impairment, and other rarer causes of dementia.[2]

It is a membership organisation, which works to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Many of the 25,000 members have personal experience of dementia, as carers, health professionals or people with dementia themselves.[3]

The society relies on voluntary donations from the public through fundraising and other activities. It is a registered Charity No. 296645, registered as a company limited by guarantee and registered in England No. 2115499. Its registered office is at Devon House, 58 St Katharine's Way, London E1W 1LB[4]

The Chief Executive of the Alzheimer's Society (as at 2013) is Jeremy Hughes.[5]

History[edit]

The organisation was formed in 1979,[6] when two people with extensive experience of caring for relatives with dementia discussed the pressing need to raise awareness of dementia and to improve the quality of care, support and information for people with dementia and their carers.

This led to the creation of the Alzheimer's Disease Society. A steering committee was formed, consisting of carers and medical professionals, and the first annual general meeting was held on 13 September 1980. This first AGM was attended by 98 members and supporters. The first Newsletter was published in January 1981. A development officer was employed at around this time, and the first branches were established in Oxford and Bromley in 1980 and 1981 respectively. One of the Society's earliest contributions to research, as described in the Newsletter of January 1981, was a request for brain tissue donations to help support research studies.[7]

Through the 1980s and 1990s the society continued to grow, with volunteer committees establishing branches across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. At the AGM in 1999 members of the society agreed the change of name to Alzheimer's Society.

By 2003 the Society was a £30 million organisation, with over 230 branches across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2009/10 the Society's income had grown to £58.7 million and it currently (2012) has a network of over 2000 services.[8][9]

Activities[edit]

The society:

  • has 230 local branches provide support and information for people with dementia and their carers[10]
  • provides information and support for people with dementia and their carers by telephone[11] and online,[12] including factsheets[13] which can be downloaded
  • supports research along the themes of "cause, cure, care", by making research grants and providing the "Dementia Knowledge Centre", whose catalogue is available online[14]
  • provides information for health and care professionals to help them to care for people with dementia[15]
  • campaigns[16] for the rights of people with dementia and their carers, including awareness-raising[17] and lobbying.[18]
  • released an iPhone app to spread awareness of dementia

Vision and mission[edit]

The society's vision is "a world without dementia".

Their mission is to:

  • change the face of dementia research
  • demonstrate best practice in dementia care and support
  • provide the best advice and support to anyone dealing with dementia
  • influence the state and society to enable those affected by dementia to live as they wish to live.

By pursuing these four goals together they hope to mobilise thousands of people. With them they hope to "reduce the impact of dementia on lives today and create a world without dementia tomorrow".[19]

Criticism of animal research[edit]

In 2011, Animal Aid challenged four charities that are the focus of their "Victims of Charity" campaign – Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, Parkinson's UK and the Alzheimer’s Society – to a public debate on the scientific and moral issues relating to their funding of animal experiments.[20][21] PETA also includes the Alzheimer's Society on its list of charities who test on animals.[22]

The Alzheimer's Society has stated that it supports involving animals in medical research, and that it considers animal research has contributed to advances in vaccination, drugs, surgical techniques and better understanding of the biology of diseases and medical conditions including Alzheimer's disease and dementia. However, it has also noted the ethical concerns involved, and stated that animals should be used in restricted circumstances, that any animals used for research should be treated humanely, and that alternative techniques should be employed where possible.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]