Guardian Dementia

This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Dementia newsfeed.

Dementia and the heartbreak it brings | Letter

Grace Dent’s feature about her father’s dementia reminded Rose Hall of her own experience with the disease

Grace Dent’s feature about her father’s decline from his earlier eccentricities and secrets to the onset of dementia (‘Sometimes I see the terror in Dad’s eyes, and it hurts my heart’, 24 October) was a stark reminder of my own experience with this tragic disease.

One of the saddest occasions I can remember is taking my husband, Graham, to a group activity organised by the Alzheimer’s Society. He joined in with flashcard games, bowls and singsongs from the 50s and 60s, along with those who had more advanced dementia than him. (He was soon to overtake them in this respect.)

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27 October 2020, 5:42 pm

The dementia that can be cured

There are more than 200 subtypes of dementia. And researchers have found that in one, confusion and memory loss can be treated. But the trick is to spot it…

When John Abraham began to lose his mind in late 2019, his family immediately feared the worst. Abraham had enjoyed robust health throughout retirement, but now at 80 he suddenly found himself struggling to finish sentences.

“I would be talking to people, and all of a sudden the final word wouldn’t come to mind,” he remembers. “I assumed this was simply a feature of ageing, and I was finding ways of getting around it.”

Patients can go from being in a nursing home, unable to communicate, to returning to work

Related: Does your loved one have dementia? Here are five books that can help

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25 October 2020, 10:00 am

Grace Dent: ‘Sometimes I see the terror in Dad's eyes, and it hurts my heart'

Our restaurant critic and her father were thick as thieves – even after she uncovered his shocking secret. But his journey into dementia proved a bigger challenge

My dad is making sketty for our tea. And I am helping, because I’m seven years old and nothing goes on in this house that I don’t have my nose in.

I still loved my dad, and the excuses I was making for him were getting more watertight by the minute

Dad has cut his clothes into narrow strips with scissors. ‘What else has he got, a set of nunchucks?’ my brother says

Related: I have decamped to the seaside, for a week of rain and tedium. It’s bliss | Grace Dent

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24 October 2020, 8:00 am

Alarming new data shows the UK was the 'sick man' of Europe even before Covid | Richard Horton

A global study has exposed how poorly prepared Britain was for a virus that targets our most vulnerable people

  • Richard Horton is a doctor and edits the Lancet

Our health is determined by far more than a single virus. This week, a team of scientists in Seattle, together with thousands of contributors around the world, assembled 3.5bn pieces of data to construct what they are calling the Global Burden of Disease. The story this data tells us about Britain is alarming. On some of the most important measures of health, the four nations of the United Kingdom perform worse than our nearest neighbours. Even with coronavirus out of the picture, Britain is the sick man, woman and child of Europe.

The headline findings from the report are clear. In 2019, life expectancy at birth in the UK was 82.9 years for a woman and 79.2 years for a man (the average for both was 81.1 years). These numbers look good, especially when compared with historical figures. In 1950, for example, the average life expectancy at birth for a UK citizen was 68.9 years. The combined effects of economic growth, better education and an improved NHS have delivered an extra 12 years of life. Impressive.

Related: Liverpool Covid admissions will ‘devastate’ other hospital care

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18 October 2020, 12:00 pm

Inquest rules heading heavy leather balls 'a factor' in death of Alan Jarvis

  • Jarvis developed Alzheimer’s disease and died in December 2019
  • ‘Constant heading can’t have done him any good,’ says widow

A former Wales international footballer who developed dementia had died after heading heavy leather balls during his career, an inquest heard on Thursday.

Alan Jarvis, 76, who played for Everton, Hull City and Mansfield Town during his career before retiring from the game at the age of 30, died at a nursing home at Mold, North Wales, last December. A coroner at Ruthin recorded a conclusion of death due to an industrial disease.

Related: Long live The King: how the FA failed to address the case of Jeff Astle

Related: England see red, Scotland soar and Big Picture fades – Football Weekly Extra

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15 October 2020, 5:30 pm

A piece of Fleet Street history: Katharine Whitehorn's desk for sale

Pioneering columnist’s 60s design classic to be auctioned to aid Alzheimer’s charity

They were inspiring and entertaining words that helped set the tone for more than just one era of social change. Katharine Whitehorn’s 60 years of provocative, useful and funny journalism and books were all typed up at a large wooden desk in a busy family living room.

Now that desk, a piece of classic Danish design as well as vintage Fleet Street history, is to go under Bonhams the auctioneer’s hammer to raise money for a charity that cares for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Related: Katharine Whitehorn, the author of Cooking in a Bedsitter, talks to Rachel Cooke

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11 October 2020, 10:15 am

Dick Johnson Is Dead review – a startling confrontation with death

Film-maker Kirsten Johnson imagines the violent demise of her psychiatrist father from a series of macabre mishaps

Kirsten Johnson is the cinematographer and film-maker who in 2016 created, or curated, Cameraperson, an arresting, dreamlike collage of material that she had shot over years, combined with footage of her own family. Now she brings this family further and more boldly into the spotlight (while keeping back a bit herself) with this startling and rather profound look at mortality and at her own adored elderly father, a beatifically smiling retired psychiatrist called C Richard “Dick” Johnson.

Related: ‘I want to break cinema’: is Dick Johnson Is Dead the most radical film of 2020?

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2 October 2020, 10:00 am

'I want to break cinema': is Dick Johnson Is Dead the most radical film of 2020?

When film-maker Kirsten Johnson’s father developed dementia, she decided to make an unusual Netflix documentary that challenges our notions of reality

We’re living in boom times for non-fiction cinema, what may be one of the most creatively fertile periods in the history of the American documentary. Aside from the more obvious breakout hits, there’s a small but exciting movement of boundary-pushing films that endeavor to deconstruct and expand our understanding of the form, a set of innovative screen experiments that find elusive truths through contrived circumstances.

Related: The Mole Agent: the story of the most unusual documentary of the year

Dick Johnson Is Dead is available on Netflix on 2 October

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29 September 2020, 6:17 am

As UK care homes face a Covid second wave, families are seeking alternatives

Growing numbers of older people are choosing live-in care or to move in with homeowners who have spare rooms

Anxiety is running high about the risk of loved ones contracting Covid in a care home over the coming months. And not without reason. Between early March and early August, care homes in England and Wales recorded some 26,500 excess deaths.

With this in mind, many families are now looking for an alternative to residential care for an elderly relative who can no longer live independently, either after a hospital stay, or because of ill-health or old age.

Related: Care room with a view: UK hotels offer respite to non-Covid patients

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23 September 2020, 7:00 am

Covid ban on care home visitors risks premature deaths, experts warn

Charities call for elderly residents’ loved ones to be given limited visiting rights to maintain ‘will to live’

Sweeping bans on visiting at thousands of care homes risk residents dying prematurely this winter as they give up hope in the absence of loved ones, experts in elderly care have warned.

More than 2,700 care homes in England are either already shut or will be told to do so imminently by local public health officials, according to a Guardian analysis of new government rules announced to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19.

Related: Relatives invited to move into care homes in England amid Covid lockdowns

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23 September 2020, 5:00 am

Supernova review – Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci dazzle as a couple facing their fears

The veteran pair are on magnificent form in a drama about love and mortality that is all the more powerful for its restraint

Lovely, heartfelt performances from Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth carry this intimate movie from actor-turned-film-maker Harry Macqueen, whose 2014 debut, Hinterland, was also a two-hander about love. Tucci and Firth play Tusker and Sam, a couple who have been together for decades: Tusker is a respected novelist and Sam a musician. (Firth gives his own perfectly serviceable piano performance of Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, all the more of a lump-in-the-throat moment for its unflashiness.) The careers of both have been put on hold because Tusker has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

The couple have decided to take their camper van for a trip north, to drop in on Sam’s sister and her family, to have some alone time together and, perhaps, to come to terms with the fact that this holiday may be their last together while Tusker is still well. He is still working on a new book but is increasingly preoccupied with astronomy, gazing into the night skies, perhaps soothed by the unimaginable vastness of space, in comparison with which his problems are nothing. Is this new hobby therapeutic, or something that is accelerating his slide into enigmatic blankness?

Related: Limbo review – heart-rending portrait of refugees stranded in Scotland

Related: ‘Films must be honest about tragedy’: the director putting dementia on screen

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22 September 2020, 11:30 am

My husband is in a care home. I visit him for 30 minutes each week in a car park

I understand visits must be restricted because of Covid, but why are families the ones to suffer?

My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eight years ago. I vowed to look after him and never put him in a home.

Three years on, after sleepless nights, mental and physical exhaustion, and the sensation that I was disintegrating, I faced the hard truth: I was not the best person to look after my husband any more. After a long and heartbreaking search I found my husband’s present care home, and shed tears of relief.

Related: ‘We were lambs led to slaughter’: life inside a care home during Covid-19

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17 September 2020, 9:52 am

Shobna Gulati: 'I've played the Queen, Thatcher and the Virgin Mary – on radio'

As she publishes a moving memoir, the Corrie, Dinnerladies and West End star talks about her three-decade battle with typecasting – and almost dying of Covid-19

Shobna Gulati is speaking about this past horrendous year in surprisingly serene tones. Her mother died last autumn, and a few months later she contracted Covid-19 along with a secondary infection that turned out to be pneumonia. It might have killed her had it not been for a swift diagnosis. “That doctor saved my life,” she says.

Coronavirus left her holed up at home for several weeks, on her own and only opening the front door to gulp in the fresh air. Yet in the maelstrom of grief, illness and social isolation, she managed to write a book, published this month. Remember Me? is a memoir about her mother, Asha Gulati, an indomitable, Southport-born woman who was diagnosed with dementia in 2017. Gulati became her live-in carer at their Manchester family home, juggling life as an actor, dancer and TV presenter with the daily unpredictability of that care.

Sometimes British Asians need a little less sitar and a little more Prince

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16 September 2020, 5:00 am

Our right to spend time with loved ones is being cruelly violated by the government | Nicci Gerrard

That people in residential homes are separated from their carers is a tragedy. Nicci Gerrard, co-founder of John’s Campaign, explains why she’s helping to lead a legal fight to overturn this ban

Just as I sat down to write this piece, my phone rang. The woman’s voice was thick with distress. She didn’t want her name to be public, didn’t want practical help; she just wanted to tell her story to someone and she didn’t know who would listen and who would care.

Her husband, to whom she has been married for 57 years, has dementia and is in a home. Before lockdown, she visited twice a day, spending hours with him, kissing him, hugging and holding him. He is at a stage of his dementia where it can be hard to have a conversation, but, she says, “he understands affective language” – the language of touch, of physical presence and affection. People with dementia lose so much, but they usually do not lose their deep feelings, their love and need.

Family carers should be recognised as essential, and given the same protection, testing and status as a key worker

Related: My father entered hospital articulate and able. He came out a broken man

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13 September 2020, 8:15 am

Care home visits guidance in England is unlawful, charity claims

Campaigners threaten legal action over suffering caused by lack of visits to most vulnerable

Campaigners working to persuade the government to reinstate care home visits have challenged the legality of recent guidance that they say has spread chaos and caused suffering to some of the country’s most vulnerable people.

Julia Jones and Nicci Gerrard, the co-founders of John’s Campaign, argue that a fundamental violation of human rights has been taking place in care homes across England for the past six weeks.

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9 September 2020, 4:13 pm

Director Sally Potter: 'I've seen the grief Covid-19 causes'

Through a bout of coronavirus and re-edits that saw Chris Rock cut entirely, it has been a bumpy road for the director’s new film

Sally Potter fell ill as soon as she reached France. It was March and, by now, people knew the implications of a fever. The director could have caught coronavirus in any number of ways. In February, her latest film, The Roads Not Taken, premiered at the Berlin film festival. Then she flew to New York, promoting the US release as the city lurched into panic. She re-crossed the Atlantic to London, before leaving again for the remote Auvergne, west of Lyon. Her temperature rocketed. “I spent a lot of time future-gazing. You lie there wondering where you’re going to end up.”

Potter is still in France. Her sickness was the kind they call mild – grim weeks, a slow recovery. Someone close to her died from Covid in that first phase of the pandemic, she says. “So I’ve seen the grief it causes.”

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4 September 2020, 7:00 am

‘It's good for the brain’: how music can help BAME people living with dementia

A cafe playing Bollywood tunes benefits members of the south Asian community who find it hard to access mainstream services

In a cafe in Leeds, older people from south Asian communities were attending a weekly music session before Covid struck, to sing songs and listen to instruments that brought back memories. They all shared not only the same culture and language, but also a diagnosis of dementia.

“Music can be so powerful. It’s a big part of most south Asian communities; they have prayers, they listen to Bollywood. They have done that all their life,” says Ripaljeet Kaur, who runs the Hamari Yaadain dementia cafe.

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2 September 2020, 6:00 am

Quarter of Covid victims in England and Wales have dementia – study

Data also shows up to 75% of all deaths in care facilities globally were of people with dementia

People with dementia accounted for a quarter of all Covid-related deaths in England and Wales, and three-quarters of all deaths in care facilities globally, data shows.

The London School of Economics and University College London are looking at the mortality rate of those with dementia in a regularly updated report. According to their research, up to 75% of Covid-19 deaths globally in care facilities are those with dementia as an underlying condition.

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31 August 2020, 11:01 pm

Lifestyle changes could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases – study

Addressing 12 factors such as excessive drinking and air pollution exposure may have significant effect, experts say

Excessive drinking, exposure to air pollution and head injuries all increase dementia risk, experts say in a report revealing that up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide could be delayed or prevented by addressing 12 such lifestyle factors.

Around 50 million people around the world live with dementia, including about 850,000 people in the UK. By 2040, it has been estimated there will be more than 1.2 million people living with dementia in England and Wales. There is currently no cure.

Related: Lifestyle changes could prevent a third of dementia cases, report suggests

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30 July 2020, 4:30 pm

Modern footballers could be at greater risk from head injury, says academic

  • The Field study was commissioned by the FA and PFA
  • Modern players not at any less risk than predecessors

Modern footballers could be at greater risk of neurodegenerative disease from head injuries than their predecessors, the academic leading a landmark study into the phenomenon has said.

The Field study, jointly commissioned by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association to study dementia and other neurological diseases among retired players, last year observed a risk of such conditions three and a half times greater than among the general population.

Related: Coventry announce plans for new ground on Warwick University campus

The modern ball stays light, but if you hit it and it travels faster and lands at a higher speed it may be causing more problems

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21 July 2020, 11:05 pm