Former All Black captain Reuben Thorne is helping to support the approximately 50,000 New Zealanders with dementia, by becoming Alzheimers NZ’s second Champion for Dementia.
The role will see Reuben working alongside Alzheimers NZ to raise awareness of dementia and help New Zealanders to understand more about the condition, which touches the lives of two out of every three Kiwis.
“I’m particularly keen to help New Zealanders understand that there are things they can do to reduce their own risk of developing dementia by living a healthy lifestyle – by exercising regularly, eating well, and not smoking – all lifestyle choices that I live my life by.”
Catherine Hall, Alzheimers NZ Executive Director, says Alzheimers NZ is excited to be adding Reuben to its group of Champions, which it is hoping to grow over the coming years. It’s first Champion, TV personality Colin Mathura-Jeffree, was announced in September 2013.
“Dementia is one of New Zealand’s most significant and growing healthcare challenges. Around 50,000 New Zealanders have dementia, and that is forecast to increase to 150,000 by 2050,” Ms Hall says.
“We want New Zealanders to understand that there are things they can do to reduce their risk of developing dementia, and Reuben will help us to communicate those messages. The 2014 World Alzheimer Report, released last week indicated that while there is no real evidence that dementia can be prevented, by keeping fit and healthy, we can reduce the risk of developing dementia.”
Ms Hall says Reuben will play an important role in the About Dementia campaign, which was launched by Alzheimers NZ in late August. The campaign encourages New Zealanders to find out more about dementia so they are prepared if it affects them or someone they know, and so that people affected by dementia can get the help and support they need.
“Research we released in late August demonstrated just how widespread the impact of dementia is, with 2 out of every 3 New Zealanders knowing or having known someone affected by the condition,” she says.
“New Zealanders all need to know more about the dementia so they can recognise the early warning signs and get support if it affects them or someone they know, and so that people with dementia can remain actively engaged in their communities for as long as possible.”
For more information about dementia and the About Dementia campaign, visit www.aboutdementia.org.nz or call 0800 004 001.
Anyone worried that they or someone they know is showing signs of dementia should contact their GP for a full assessment. For support and education people can contact their local Alzheimers organisation on 0800 004 001
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