Thursday, 17 May 2018

Let's talk more about dementia

It was a very brave decision by Dame Barbara Windsor's husband Scott to release the news about her dementia diagnosis.

The announcement was made with her permission, and although she had been diagnosed back in 2014, they had kept the information private until now.

I totally respect that too - in the 'world of celeb', we are often bombarded with info about what stars are up to, but some people feel that some things are better dealt with privately.  Victoria Wood's decision to keep her cancer diagnosis private - not 'secret' as some papers labelled it - was the right decision for her. 

In Dame Barbara's case, they decided to talk about her having Alzheimer's now because her condition has been declining, and the couple still wanted to go out as normal and not have to worry about trying to hide what was wrong.

The very positive thing to have happened though since Scott's announcement is the amount of news coverage and discussion about what is the cruellest of diseases, and truthfully is probably one of the illnesses that we all fear the most.

But talking about dementia in all its formats will help to reduce any stigma that still exists around the illness.  Statistically, over the age of 80, one in six people will have some form of dementia.

We do need to be much more open about dementia - it's not a natural part of ageing, it's a disease of the brain, but there are medical treatments that can sometimes be taken to slow its progress.

If you are worried about a friend or relative, please encourage them to see their GP at the earliest opportunity.  The NHS teams who work with dementia patients and their families do a marvellous job, they are there to help.

Years ago people felt a stigma about cancer and didn't discuss that - thankfully, that is no longer the case. 

We need to make sure the same thing happens with dementia - that way everybody can get the help and support they need.

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