Colin Mathura-Jeffree lends support to Alzheimers cause
12 September 2013
New Zealand TV star Colin Mathura-Jeffree lends support to Alzheimers cause
New Zealand TV personality Colin Mathura-Jeffree is calling for New Zealanders to share their experiences of dementia to help improve the lives of the more than 50,000 New Zealanders with the condition.
Mr Mathura-Jeffree became New Zealand’s first ever Champion for Dementia today. This will see him work alongside Alzheimers NZ in promoting wider understanding of the condition. Mathura-Jeffree’s grandmother Eileen passed away in 1998 after a long struggle with Alzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia.
“When my grandmother was first diagnosed I was a child and there were a lot of whispered conversations. It’s not a condition that people know how to deal with - they just don’t know what to say,” Mr Mathura-Jeffree says.
“But the reality is, we are all likely to know or encounter someone with dementia, and we need to know how to handle it. It affects the people you’d least expect, and no one is spared.”
Alzheimers NZ has today released figures confirming that statement. Its latest benchmark survey[i] reveals that 65 percent of respondents knew or had known someone with Alzheimers disease or dementia. For those aged over 50, more than 80 percent knew someone with the condition.
Catherine Hall, Executive Director of Alzheimers NZ says the results of the survey show just how far the effects of dementia, one of New Zealand’s most significant and growing health concerns, are felt.
“We know that around 50,000 people in New Zealand have dementia right now, but this will triple by 2050 as the population ages – and it’s not just older people,” Ms Hall says.
This rapidly increasing number is the ‘tip of the iceberg’, Ms Hall says, adding that for every person with dementia there is an entire network of family, friends, co-workers and supporters affected by the condition.
“We’re very pleased to be working with Colin Mathura-Jeffree, to help improve the day-to-day lives of those New Zealanders. We hope that New Zealanders will support us, and they don’t need to do a lot – we are asking for their willingness to share their stories and experiences.
“This will help others understand that there are things we can all do to help those affected by dementia.”
Mathura-Jeffree is challenging New Zealanders to visit the Alzheimers NZ awareness website www.wecanhelp.org.nz to share their own experiences with dementia. He says anyone concerned about themselves or a loved one can also access support through Alzheimers NZ’s members and resources via the website.
“I’d encourage anyone who’s had an experience with dementia to share their stories alongside mine. Together we can break down the stigma of dementia and help those affected by it to live the best life they possibly can.”
The announcement of Mr Mathura-Jeffree’s role as a Champion for Dementia marks the beginning of the second phase of the We Can Help initiative, supported by Pub Charity, which aims to broaden the understanding and acceptance of dementia in the wider community.
 Alzheimers NZ’s benchmark survey was conducted by Bauer Media Group in February 2013. A total of 2,293 women aged between 15-74 completed the survey.