Chris Is 39, Kelly Is 41 and Yes, This Is about Dementia.
Chris Graham is a former soldier and lives in Oxfordshire. He and his partner have a two month old son named Dexter. Chris and his family noticed that he was “a little bit forgetful” a while ago. He is now 39 years old and loves to ride the bike. Kelly Watson is 41 years old. She is a former civil servant and single mother. Her daughter Holly is 17 years old. She started having problems with coordination and memory loss with 37. Doctors assumed that this was a sign of depression. Chris and Kelly are definitely people whom you wish a happy and healthy future, even without knowing them in person. Unfortunately, they have one thing in common. They belong to the 5% of people living with “younger onset dementia”.
Younger onset dementia affects people between 30 and 65. It mainly causes a decline in people’s thinking, reasoning, remembering and communicating ability. Additionally, personality, mood and behaviour might be affected. For younger people it is often hard to accept that they might have this problem as the symptoms can be quickly linked to stress or depression. Few go to the doctor immediately as they are probably preoccupied with work (“Working dementia” is another name for it) and have responsibilities and commitments. (Click here to find out more)
Kelly also couldn’t believe it at first. She got her diagnosis on her 41st birthday last year. Her biggest fear is to forget her own daughter, her parents and her siblings. Her mother and Holly take care of her today and she tries to prevent her brain from cognitively declining with a support group and brain training. This might sound like an UK version of “Still Alice”, but it is reality and the future for Kelly. Chris inherited this rare form of dementia from his father, who died at 42. His father’s sister died at 38. His two sisters didn’t inherit it, but his 4 years older brother already needs 24/7 care. In his interview with Fergus Walsh from BCC he says that there is a 50% chance that his son Dexter will get it, but he hopes that there will be a cure, until his son is really at risk. In his interview he openly speaks about the diagnosis being some kind of relief, because he knew that something was wrong. He furthermore now knows that his time is restricted and aims to make the most out of it. He always wanted to travel and recently launched a fundraising campaign for the Alzheimer’s Research UK. He will cycle 16,000 miles around North America for a year. Click here to support his challenge and find out more. These are only 2 of many stories worldwide, about young people fighting the fight against dementia. Young onset dementia can have many forms, and it shows that it is not only a topic for “older” generations. Awareness has to be raised because only through awareness can action be triggered. For me this has been an eye-opener, because not only is dementia an issue because my parents or grandparents could be affected. It is an issue because I might be affected. Maybe not today, but it kind of feels like it could happen tomorrow. I’m not saying that everyone will have to live with dementia one day. All I’m saying is that these rare cases show that the topic has to be understood by everyone, regardless of their age or background. That’s what we from MindMate stand for. We want to raise awareness! We want people to speak about it! No one should go through this alone! If you want to find out more about “young onset dementia”, comment bellow and stay tuned for new blog posts.