Last week Louis Theroux’s television programme Extreme Love – Dementia aired on the BBC. The programme explored the struggles and triumphs of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as he strived to “experience their life first hand”.
Meeting couples and families in Phoenix, Arizona, the show provided an insight into the disease and its effect on relationships. It highlighted the every day difficulties faced by sufferers, from dialling a telephone number to recognising a spouse or son. By meeting real people with dementia and exploring their lives, the producers showed the hardships and complexity of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
As Louis took on the responsibilities of carer John Vaughan the devastating impact of the disease was clearly demonstrated. Nancy Vaughan (aged 89) has trouble remembering her own name, let alone the fact that she is married. John has taken to wearing a name tag to help Nancy identify him and carries a wedding photo so that, in her confused moments, he can prove to her that they are married.
Aged 88, John is the full-time carer for someone with many of the same needs as an adult-sized toddler.
The show brought to light the reality of Alzheimer’s disease in a moving and interesting way, both increasing awareness and raising its public profile.
Explore this site for the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
This month in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans for the government to ‘More than double spending on dementia’ by 2015 at the Dementia 2012 conference.
Cameron revealed that he considers the UK’s situation in terms of dementia to be a “national crisis” and warned that “drastic economic costs lie in wait” if we do not invest now.
The government’s current budget for research and development is £26 million which will increase to over £66 million over the next three years. This investment will help scientists to understand the biology of the disease to make finding a cure more likely. The investment could also propel Britain to world leader status in the field of dementia.
As well as this increased investment in research, Cameron has also promised a substantial boost to hospital budgets. From April, the government will inject an initial £54 million into hospital care. The funding will greatly improve the quality of dementia care across the UK’s National Health Service and in particular the diagnosis of dementia.
Explore this site of find out more about the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.