Robbed of future'

PUBLISHED: 11:21 30 June 2006 | UPDATED: 21:57 28 May 2010

Sue Bass, standing right, and Sue Moorehouse, seated right, at an Alzheimer’s carers’ meeting with other carers.

Sue Bass, standing right, and Sue Moorehouse, seated right, at an Alzheimer's carers' meeting with other carers.

DEMENTIA affects one in 20 people over the age of 65 and one in five over the age of 80. More than half have Alzheimer s disease. One in four people is affected by dementia either by having the condition or knowing someone who does. Unpaid carers deliver

DEMENTIA affects one in 20 people over the age of 65 and one in five over the age of 80. More than half have Alzheimer's disease.

One in four people is affected by dementia either by having the condition or knowing someone who does.

Unpaid carers deliver most of the care to people with dementia in the UK and it is estimated that nearly half of these carers are more than 70 years old.

Sunday is the start of an awareness week to show that dementia really does affect everyone in some way.

A spokesman for the Fenland and Marshland branch of the Alzheimer's Society said: "Dementia connects the whole community - carers, partners, colleagues, parents, children, grandchildren, neighbours, shopkeepers, service providers and care and health professionals.

"We all know that there are many people with dementia and carers who do not use the help and support that the Alzheimer's Society can offer.

"We would really like to reach them and remind them that anyone can develop dementia and the society, through its local branch, is there to help. We don't want anyone to go through dementia alone.

Two people who have found support through the Fenland and Marshland Branch of the Alzheimer's Society describe it as a lifeline.

Sue Bass cared for her parents for almost 10 years - both suffered from different forms of dementia.

Sue, of March, said: "With my mother it was not forgetfulness it was a change of personality. It was as if some UFO had landed and removed my mother and replaced her with someone else - it was that dramatic.

"She had never had a temper but she started losing control of her temper towards me and her husband. With my father he would just sit and look blankly in front of the TV."

Sue's father, Richard Smart, died three years ago and her mum, Babette, just weeks ago. Both died in different homes where they had been well cared for but the effect on Sue and her family has been devastating.

She said: "Fenland and Marshland branch has been my lifeline, just knowing someone was there at the end of the phone to talk to was a relief."

Just a few years ago, Steve Moorehouse was a highly skilled kitchen and bathroom fitter, but last year he was diagnosed with dementia.

Steve is 55 but had been showing signs of the illness for the last two years. His wife Sue cares for him and has been hugely grateful for the support she receives from the local branch of the Alzheimer's Society.

ONE day Steve couldn't remember how to wire a plug, then he had difficulty fitting a new kitchen sink.

Sue said: "I thought what on earth is wrong with him? I thought it was just elderly people who got dementia.

"I never dreamed it could happen to him. He worked 12 hours a day, played guitar and sang in a band. He had a motorbike and a boat. He never sat still for two minutes."

Now Steve, who also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, finds it difficult to do most things.

Sue said: "He was never at home and now he can't even pick out the clothes he wants to wear in the morning. I feel it has robbed us of our future - it is like dealing with a child again."

Although many of those who attend carers meetings are older than Sue, she has found the support and the financial advice invaluable. She said: "You feel you are not alone, it is an absolute must to help get you through."

The couple moved to March in 2003 but are leaving to be near family who can help care for Steve.

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