The online video from Aardman Animations features former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston, whose father Ronnie died following a 14-year battle with the illness.
The 90-second film for Alzheimer’s Research UK shows an orange being stripped away to demonstrate how diseases that cause dementia physically attack the brain. The brain of an Alzheimer’s sufferer can weigh around 140 grams less than a healthy brain — about the weight of an orange.
Eccleston, 51, said he hoped the film would “fight the misunderstanding and fatalism that surrounds dementia in our society”.
He said: “We have to think differently about dementia. We have to stop believing dementia is an inevitability — something that simply happens to us all as we grow older. If we don’t, we’re never going to truly fight it.
“Dementia is caused by diseases and diseases can be beaten. We’ve tamed diseases like cancer and heart disease and a diagnosis of either is no longer a certain death sentence.
“People with dementia deserve this same hope. This film aims to show that dementia is caused by physical processes that scientists can put a stop to.”
Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Major breakthroughs have been made in the battle against Aids and cancer, and research will bring these same life-changing advancements in the field of dementia. To get there, we must stop fearing dementia as something that just happens as we age, and focus on fighting the diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s, that are the root cause of it.”