This Dementia Action Week, around 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, and with an ageing population somebody is diagnosed every three minutes. But it doesn’t just affect the person with the condition, it can take a toll on those caring for a loved one.
Now well over a year into the pandemic, people with dementia and their families are still getting to grips with how lockdown impacted their wellbeing.
Author, presenter and former newsreader John Suchet told The Big Issue about suspecting his wife, Bonnie, had dementia years before her diagnosis.
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Dementia is the bastard of diseases. It creeps up unannounced. No tell-tale lump, no hacking cough, no unexplained pain. You’ve forgotten why you came into a room, forgotten where you put the car keys, forgotten a name. Who hasn’t done that? If they think you’ve got cancer they do tests – X-ray, MRI scan, biopsy. If they think you’ve got dementia, do know how they test you? Who’s the Prime Minister? What city are we in? What kind of building is this?
Not exactly scientific, is it? I suspected my wife Bonnie had dementia long before we were given the diagnosis. There were lots of little signs over several years. Not understanding a simple question, forgetting something that had happened the day before. And then the big one. We were at the departure gate at Stansted waiting to board a flight to France. Bonnie went off to the toilet. I told her not to be too long, boarding would begin very soon. Fifteen minutes later, with the last passengers boarding, I heard my name paged. Would I please come to the information desk. There was my darling Bonnie, not in any distress, smiling with relief that she had found me.