DE­MEN­TIA SUF­FER­ERS Heart­break as my hus­band changed in front of my eyes

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to acute hos­pi­tals,” added Dr Hayo, who has been a nurse for 38 years.

“We want the en­tire fam­ily to live as well as pos­si­ble with the di­ag­no­sis and we work to build re­silience and cop­ing strate­gies for them.

“There is an ur­gent need for more nurses and any fundrais­ing would al­low us to fund a nurse to help a lo­cal au­thor­ity start the ser­vice and see what a dif­fer­ence it makes, said Dr Hayo. “It would also help us run the helpline which is open to any­one.”

Aware­ness of de­men­tia in­creased in May when it was re­vealed that Carry On star Bar­bara Wind­sor had been di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s. A num­ber of other famous names have spo­ken of their dev­as­ta­tion at loved ones be­ing di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion.

Co­me­dian David Bad­diel made a doc­u­men­tary to show the re­al­ity of his fa­ther’s life with Pick’s dis­ease, a rare form of de­men­tia. Hol­ly­wood star Carey Mulligan told how her grand­mother fought Alzheimer’s for 16 years.

De­men­tia has 200-plus sub-types but Alzheimer’s is the most wide­spread, af­fect­ing 60 per cent of those over 65 who have been di­ag­nosed.

For help visit de­men­ti­auk.org, ring the helpline on 0800 888 6678 or email [email protected]­men­ti­auk.org

TO DO­NATE:

Text DMUK18 £5 to 70070, visit de­men­ti­auk.org/do­nate or send a cheque to De­men­tia UK, 7th Floor, One Aldgate, Lon­don, EC3N 1RE

THE EARLY signs were dif­fi­cult to pick up and Diana Clark put hus­band Lester’s ir­ri­tabil­ity and lack of mo­ti­va­tion down to stress due to changes at work. She never con­sid­ered de­men­tia.

“He was 59 – too young,” said Diana. “He had a heart at­tack in 2011 and didn’t want to go back to work. His be­hav­iour changed but, with hind­sight, it changed a few years be­fore that, in about 2008.

“It was noth­ing ma­jor but you put these things down to life and get­ting older.”

Lester’s once pin-sharp mem­ory was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing and he strug­gled with putting shop­ping away be­cause he didn’t know where things went and his driv­ing be­came er­ratic.

“He called one day to say he couldn’t find the car and be­lieved it had been stolen,” said Diana, a for­mer le­gal sec­re­tary. In 2014 Lester was di­ag­nosed with fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia and rapidly iso­lated him­self at home in Rom­ford, Es­sex, be­com­ing hugely frus­trated.

“It was ter­ri­ble,” said Diana. “We met when I was 19 and Lester was 22 and have been mar­ried 40 years but our re­la­tion­ship changed to­tally. We weren’t a cou­ple any more. De­men­tia just tears peo­ple apart. You watch some­one change be­fore you and feel guilt that you can’t stop it hap­pen­ing.”

The dev­as­tated fam­ily were lucky enough to live in an area with an Ad­mi­ral

Nurse, Sam Ponting, who added them to her bulging caseload, help­ing them nav­i­gate com­plex care fund­ing and cope with an evap­o­rat­ing mar­riage.

Lester, a coun­cil tax in­spec­tor and for­mer driv­ing in­struc­tor, be­came dis­tressed about not be­ing able to drive and then would only wear one par­tic­u­lar shirt and pair of trousers.

“These were very tough things for ev­ery­one to deal with and we all had to work to­gether,” said Sam, part of the Haver­ing Mem­ory Ser­vice at North East Lon­don NHS Foun­da­tion Trust.

“Prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions re­ally help but it is about be­ing there for the fam­ily all the time, un­der­stand­ing them and help­ing them deal with the psy­cho­log­i­cal stress that comes with de­men­tia.”

Diana, who has a son, Nick, 32, and grand­son, Dy­lan, two, said: “It would have been a night­mare with­out Sam. I wouldn’t have been able to cope and I don’t know where I would have turned.

“When Lester was di­ag­nosed they dumped a load of leaflets on me which is the last thing you want. We were so lucky to get Sam. It’s a cliché but she is my rock and the prac­ti­cal and emo­tional sup­port she gives me is bril­liant.”

Lester’s de­men­tia wors­ened and af­ter a dis­tress­ing Christ­mas where he was con­stantly try­ing to leave the house, it was de­cided to place him in a care home.

“It took a year to find some­where be­cause he was un­der 65 and the rules are very com­plex,” said Diana. “But Sam guided me through that.”

Sam, an Ad­mi­ral Nurse for the past eight years of her 31 years in nurs­ing, said: “Diana knows she can call me and we are al­ways there for her and that is the most im­por­tant thing.”

suchA loss of func­tion short-term as driv­ing skills, writ­ing and mem­ory, read­ing, also in­clude a arith­metic. It can such as deaf­ness phys­i­cal ill­nessThere can and/or sight prob­lems. or per­son­al­ity also be be­hav­iour get­ting changes and dif­fi­culty and cop­ing on with peo­ple with reg­u­lar so­cial func­tions.

A HELP­ING HAND: Diana, above left, with Ad­mi­ral Nurse Sam, who helped when hus­band Richard’s de­men­tia de­te­ri­o­rated. Left, Diana with Lester be­fore the de­men­tia took its toll

FIGHT: Carey’s grand­mother suf­fered

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