Alzheimer’s fair opens in UK as dementia becomes big business

With 65 per cent of us likely to know a sufferer, products are being devised to help patients

Dementia trashes old age, and breaks the hearts of those who watch the people they used to know slip away. It is a year since the Prime Minister launched the Dementia Challenge, which seeks to make the UK a leader in research into the degenerative brain disesases of which Alzheimer’s is the best known. Already close to a million people in the UK have dementia.

That means it is potentially big business. This weekend sees the UK’s first Alzheimer’s Show, effectively a trade fair at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. “Sixty-five per cent of people in the country will know someone with dementia,” said the event’s organiser Nigel Ward. “The show is for carers, members of the public and professionals working with dementia patients.”

Speakers will share stories of their lives changing as a result of Alzheimer’s. Seemingly every member of the paying public is here because they have the same story. “My dad was diagnosed last year,” said Joan Smith, from Beckton. “He’s OK now, but we know, sadly, that he will only get worse. I came because I wanted to know more about what’s out there for him. There’s only so much googling you can do.”

Some of the exhibits are at the same time heartbreaking and inspiring. Popular are telephone attachments that block nuisance phone calls. Elsewhere companies offer legal advice on the complicated matters that arise when a person becomes incapable of making decisions about their affairs, particularly financial ones.

One of the most interesting displays is of activity products for dementia made by Active Minds’, set up by 25-year-old Ben Atkinson-Willes. His products are, in the words of his mother Mandy, toys designed for “82-year-olds not two-year-olds”.

Mandy’s father, and Ben’s grandfather, now deceased, developed Alzheimer’s. “He loved doing jigsaw puzzles,” she said. “He would do 500-piece puzzles, then he was doing 200-piece puzzles. But by the time he was doing simple puzzles, they were all designed for two-year-olds. You know, little kids’ cartoons and so on.”

“Looking after my grandfather,” said Ben, “there was nothing for him to do. He was playing with children’s toys, which is incredibly patronising.”

Another of his products is “aqua paint”: outlines of birds and trees on white paper, which when dabbed with water on a brush reveal a colourful picture hidden beneath. It is toddler’s stuff, no question, but stimulating.

Another company, AutoPharma, develops internet-enabled medication dispensers that eject pouches containing the right medication at the right time of day, and can alert family if the person doesn’t press a button to indicate they’ve taken it. That the industry surrounding such a sad reality should be large enough to inspire a trade fair undoubtedly offers a window on the country’s ageing future.

ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected