I noticed, in the late 1980s,

I noticed, in the late 1980s,

that Ethna began to be
a bit unsure about things,

things that she normally would have
tackled very, very easily.

For example, she was reluctant
to use the electric oven.

She was reluctant to use
the washing machine.

And then
she began to repeat questions,

and she also began to have
some complaining of physical problems

that didn't seem to have
any sound basis.

The diagnosis was the last part
of the whole story,

insofar as there were
some years before that

that I noticed a change in Peter.
He was not energetic any more.

He had no ambition.

Very different man
to the man I married.

Recognising the symptoms of dementia
is a difficult thing,

but quite an easy thing,
as well, in many ways.

The thing that's difficult
is that people often assume

that, er,...

memory loss, becoming confused,

is a natural and normal part
of growing older, but it's not.

The thing to do is to be alert
to changes in people's abilities,

including their ability with memory,
and, if you're worried about that,

the same as any other symptom
you might be worried about,

the best thing to do is to go and see
your doctor and talk it through.

The diagnosis of Alzheimer's,
when the consultant told us,

he said he was very sorry, and I must
say that I was very sorry, too.

I hoped that Peter was fine,
and it was just a blip on his health.

But we then decided
to be very positive about it,

and cope with
whatever we've got to cope with.

It's totally unpredictable,

the speed at which
the illness will develop,

so we've got to hope that,
while the illness is developing,

we can still encourage them to lead
as normal a life as possible.

It's about focusing on
what individuals want to do,

and what individuals can do,
and then trying to help,

or try to decrease the disability
caused by what they can't do.

The telephone is becoming
quite an ordeal

because of all the little buttons.

I'm going to have to try and get
a simple telephone

with, possibly, photographs,
so that he can press a picture,

so that he can ring, say,
a sister or a friend in that way.

I think we realise now that,

the person who's suffering
from the illness

should be encouraged to lead
as full a life as possible,

to maximise their potential.

Normally I try and get up
at lunchtime to see Ethna,

and at tea-time,
to help with her feeding.

That, er, is the essential structure

of my daily routine.

The most important thing
is to not be afraid to go for help.

Dementia is a common illness.
There is a stigma about dementia

that stops people from seeking help
and asking help.

Don't let that affect you.
So do ask for help.

Ask for help
from your general practitioner.

The other people to go to
are the local Alzheimer's society,

and they will provide you with
good-quality care and support.

We've both made new wills,

and made it clear that,
in the event of my death,

Peter will be looked after through
this lasting power of attorney.

I have now left everything
to the children,

in the hope
that they would look after Ethna

as well as possible,

and I have no doubt
that they would do so.

I think the key to living well
with dementia

is getting a diagnosis
as early as possible.

Knowledge is power. If you know
what the cause of the problem is,

then, you can start to make
your own decisions

about what you want to do now,
what you want to do in the future.

You're preparing both yourself
and your family

for living with an illness.

I've got to go on with life. I've got
to be strong for Peter and myself.

It's no good throwing your hands up
and just saying,

"Oh, God, what's happened?"
It's happened. We'll cope with it.

I think it's more...

..having a positive attitude, that
we're going to do the best we can,

rather than be overwhelmed
by the problems

that this illness brings to us.

I'm talking from the point of view
of a carer.

It's really an attitude of mind.