My posts, will from time to time wander away from a garden theme. Today is one of those.
A death or a tragedy causes family and friends to rally around with condolences and support. The early onset of dementia leaves people silent.
My ex-husband, aged 59, has early dementia.
He walked out of his job in June 2010 and his moods, which followed, were put down to depression. It later transpired that his work colleagues had noticed a change in him but they all thought it was not their place to say anything. By August 2010 something was far from right and he finally visited his G.P. who referred him to a consultant.
Rapidly an intelligent, athletic, calm and happy man became a different person with bouts of erratic behaviour, flying into violent rages, forgetting how to make toast and now he can’t even remember what his socks are for. The consultants are perplexed over the type of dementia, and seem to change their diagnosis with every test. There are several types of dementia including Frontotemperal Dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s Disease being the most common in the over 65s.
The number of young people, (under 60), diagnosed in the UK with early dementia is under 20,000. Because of its rarity there is very little support; in many cases the minimum age to have access to dementia services is 65.
He and his wife were planning to retire this year and the money saved for their retirement plans will now be spent on his care. Daughter #2 is getting married in July, and she has the sadness of her father, possibly, not walking her down the aisle. Some might think that this loss of a person is crueller than death. The man we all knew and loved has gone – he is not yet 60.
A recent poll by the Alzheimer’s Society shows we fear dementia more than cancer and even death. According to the Alzheimer’s Research 2010 Report £590 million is spent on cancer research each year, while just £50 million is invested in dementia research. For every six cancer researchers there is only one dementia researcher.
I feel desperately sad for the young, tall, handsome man I met in my early 20s. We were divorced over 18 years ago, there is little I can do but be there for my girls. What I can do is bring dementia to everyone’s attention and the desperate need for research. Dementia has been neglected for too long.
Postscript : since writing this post, it has now been discovered that he doesn’t suffer from Alzheimer’s at all, but Encephalitis. There is now a long drawn out and expensive road of treatment ahead. He could come back to us, but the chances are slimmer now than they would have been had this been diagnosed within the first three months of his illness. How many other middle aged men have been mis-diagnosed with early Dementia when, in fact, it is Encephalitis?
- Britain faces dementia catastrophe without ‘aggressive’ research drive (telegraph.co.uk)
- Hope For Thousands As Vision For Dementia Launched In Wales
- Maybe It’s NOT Alzheimer’s (psychologytoday.com)