The 79-year-old, who is also well-known for playing Argus Filch in the Harry Potter franchise and Walder Frey in the HBO fantasy series Games of Thrones, was so moved by playing a character with dementia that he backed the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week back in May 2019. Across the week he urged people to have patience and understanding when dealing with people who have the condition.
Commenting on his experience in After Life, Bradley said: “Portraying someone with dementia in After Life gave me a real insight into the difficulties 850,000 people face every day and the impact it has on families across the UK.
“But it also highlighted how everyone can make a big difference just by being patient and understanding.”
The show as a whole has been praised for its handling of both comedy and bereavement, as it follows protagonist Tony battle his demons after losing his wife, Lisa, to cancer.
“With one person every three minutes developing dementia, it’s time for us to come together and unite against dementia with Alzheimer’s Society,” Bradley added.
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“I was shocked to find that many people with the condition feel isolated and unsupported in their local community.
“Small acts of kindness make the world of difference – Dementia Action Week is a great opportunity to start a conversation and help people living with dementia live the life they want.”
The Alzheimer’s Society explains that the word “dementia” describes a set of symptoms that over time can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour.
The condition is progressive, meaning that symptoms may start as relatively mild but get worse over time.
Although individuals often get confused about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia, and together with vascular dementia makes up the majority of cases.
Common symptoms of the condition include:
- Memory loss
- Thinking speed
- Mental sharpness and quickness
- Language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking
- Difficulties doing daily activities.
Similarly, individuals may mistake dementia as a normal part of ageing, especially due to memory loss affecting all of us to varying degrees as we age.
For example, having dementia-like symptoms can be cause by other conditions such as:
- Alcohol-related brain damage
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Functional cognitive decline.
However, the UK-based charity stresses that the disease occurs when nerve cells in the brain become damaged.
Nerve cells are important as they carry messages between different parts of the brain, and around the rest of the body. Using electrical and chemical signals, they help coordinate all of the necessary functions of life.
Alzheimer’s disease occurs when nerve cells cannot connect to each other due to the build-up of proteins that form abnormal structures known as “plaques” and “tangles”.
Differing slightly, vascular dementia in particular is caused by a reduced blood supply to the brain due to diseased blood vessels. The death of brain cells can cause problems with memory, thinking or reasoning.
In addition to vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s, other types of the condition include:
- Lewy body dementia
- Fronto-temporal dementia
- Mixed dementia
- Alcohol-related dementia.
Most types of dementia are not inherited from a parent to a child. There are a few genes that will cause dementia if they are passed on through generations, known as “familial” genes. However, these types of genes are rare.
The Alzheimer’s Society explains that some particular lifestyle habits can increase your chances of developing dementia. These include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Hearing loss
If an individual remains physically active, eats healthily, doesn’t smoke, drinks less alcohol, stays mentally and socially active and takes control of their overall health, research suggests that individuals can help to reduce their risk of developing the condition.