Olivia Colman ‘held back tears’ in new dementia campaign

Olivia Colman has told how she “held back tears” while lending her voice to a new short film to raise awareness of dementia.

The Oscar winner, who played the daughter of a man with dementia who refuses assistance in the film The Father, is helping Alzheimer’s Research UK show how dementia robs people of their “happily ever after”.

The animated short film, Change The Ending, is voiced by Colman and shows how the illness can leave people worried and frightened, and has a huge impact on families.

She said: “As soon as I heard about the concept behind Alzheimer’s Research UK’s campaign, I wanted to be involved and support their search for a cure.

“Dementia devastates lives and wreaks havoc on far too many families across the UK and around the world.

“My mum was a nurse for 45 years and, as a young girl, I got to meet some of the people she cared for who were living with dementia.

“It was so upsetting to see how the condition had robbed people of their independence, and the impact it had on their loved ones.

“My great-grandmother died with the condition and other loved ones close to my family also succumbed to it, so it’s had a direct impact.

“The work Alzheimer’s Research UK does is so important, and I was proud to lend my voice to this campaign – it lays bare the realities of dementia in such a powerful and thought-provoking way.

“I was holding back tears narrating the film as dementia destroys people’s ‘happily ever afters’, and we must do everything we can to end the pain and distress it causes.

“I’d urge everyone to join me and get behind Alzheimer’s Research UK to help drive them towards a cure.”

To accompany the campaign, a YouGov survey of 2,162 people, commissioned by the charity, found only 49% could name memory loss as an effect of dementia.

Some 22% said they had no idea how the condition impacts people.

Just over one in 10 (12%) said dementia causes people to lose their independence, while one in five (21%) were aware it causes trouble with managing daily tasks.

Almost one million people in the UK are living with dementia, which can cause memory loss, changes to personality, losing the ability to communicate, hallucinations, becoming incontinent, and needing support to do everyday things such as eating, washing and dressing.

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Our new film features a story we urgently need to tell – because this is the distressing reality for many people living with dementia today. Tragically, it will be the reality for many more if we don’t act now.

“As our survey shows, too many people are unaware of how dementia destroys lives, and this is blocking our path to a cure.

“We know the film will be hard to watch, but by putting a spotlight on the devastation this condition causes, we hope to ignite support for the vital research that will change the ending for everyone affected by dementia.

“While we’re making great strides in dementia research, and new treatments are on the horizon, there is still much more work needed to save people from dementia.”

People can watch the film and learn more at alzres.uk/foracure