How de­men­tia erased my wife in just 3 years

Gill, 56, can no longer walk or talk

Scottish Daily Mail - - Forever Autumn ... - By Claire Duf­fin

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

2016

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