England's Lionesses share experiences of dementia in support of Alzheimer’s Society 1 week ago

England's Lionesses share experiences of dementia in support of Alzheimer’s Society

"It's the hardest thing for families to go through..."

Three of England's Lionesses have shared their first-hand experiences of dementia in a video released as part of the recently announced partnership between the Football Association and Alzheimer's Society.

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Niamh Charles, Alessia Russo and Jill Scott, who are preparing for World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Latvia, broke away from training at St. George's Park to share an open conversation about how their lives had been touched by dementia.

Charles, who plays her club football at Chelsea, shared memories of her late grandad, who passed away when she was just eight years old.

"I know he lost his independence, but all the stories I hear say how he was the life and soul of the family," the defender said.

"The biggest thing that my whole family said is that we lost him 4 or 5 years before he died, their relationship with him totally changed."

Alessia Russo lost her own grandfather four years ago, and gave an insight into the toll his decline took on the wider family.

"He would always remember things from early on in his life, like where he went to school and who he played football for when he was 15, even though he struggled to remember what he ate for dinner the day before," the Manchester United forward said.

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"I was old enough to understand what was going on, but once you understand it and realise then it becomes quite daunting.

"His decline was quite rapid unfortunately and he completely lost his independence which was sad. He went into a care home and we went to see him once a week, but even in a week you could see how different things were."

Jill Scott told her teammates how she recently discovered how one of her former coaches, who she says played a crucial role in her rise to international football, was now living with dementia.

"I definitely owe it to him for getting me into the England team – he always believed in us, I would always keep in touch with him through Facebook, he’d always comment on things and stuff like that," the Manchester City midfielder reflected.

"One day during lockdown I had a message saying ‘I’m his wife, just contacting you to let you know he’s got dementia."

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She added: "It's the hardest thing for families to go through; it’s unimaginable, so it’s really exciting that The FA is working with Alzheimer’s Society."

Alzheimer's Society was announced as the FA's official charity partner in August. The collaboration aims to harness football's reach to raise awareness and change how people experience dementia.

The FA will work with them to create a more dementia friendly industry, exploring ways to tackle the stigma surrounding the condition so that those living with it can continue to enjoy attending football matches and playing football for longer.

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