How dementia erased my wife in just 3 years
Gill, 56, can no longer walk or talk
ONLY three years ago, Gill Cardall looked a picture of health as she smiled for photos at a wedding ceremony.
But now dementia has left her strapped into a wheelchair, puree-fed and mute at 56 years of age.
A photo released by her husband Dominic shows her head lolling while she clutches a toy doll. He says the illness has ‘erased’ her life.
The former office manager was 52 when she was diagnosed with progressive nonfluent aphasia, a rare form of dementia. By the summer of the following year, 2016, she and her husband went to renew their vows on their 30th wedding anniversary.
Although she still looked well, by then she was unable to speak and had to draw ‘squiggles’ in order to communicate with her family.
Now she is now so ill that she requires 24-hour care.
Mr Cardall, 55, said he was releasing the tragic photographs to show dementia can happen to anyone.
‘Gill was the life and soul of any party,’ he said. ‘She was a very popular lady.’
But he said that, since falling ill: ‘She has become a frailer version of herself.
‘It’s as if she is slowly fading in every aspect – physically, mentally and just in who she is. It’s like she’s being erased.’
The couple met in the Royal Navy in Plymouth and married in 1986. They have two children, Emily, 30, and Georgia, 26, who help with their mother’s care.
Both daughters were living at the family home in Congleton, Cheshire, when their mother became ill.
Mr Cardall, a former policeman, said his wife first started to have speech problems and then her personality began to change. She become ‘less empathetic’ and when their daughters came home with good exam results, she failed to react.
At the end of 2015 she went to see a specialist and was soon diagnosed with advanced dementia. Over the past 18 months, the family have been forced to adapt their home and Mrs Cardall now sleeps in what was their dining room.
Mr Cardall said: ‘I need to share the pictures to raise awareness and give people a kick up the backside. Dementia can happen to anyone.
‘Gill now needs 24-hour care, including her personal care and feeding. She has to have pureed food because of swallowing and choking issues.
‘Her fluids are all thickened to make them like wallpaper paste. She’s also losing a lot of weight. We can’t keep the weight on her because of her eating issues.’
Mr Cardall said there was little support for victims of earlyonset dementia but the family has been helped by the charity YoungDementia UK.
Of the estimated 850,000 dementia patients in Britain, just 5 per cent – 42,325 – have early-onset forms. Symptoms are often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety. They include memory loss, difficulty reading or judging distance and personality change.
‘Life and soul of any party’
Vows: Dominic and Emily, who is now in a wheelchair, right 2019