Tommy was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at just 58. With the loving support of Joyce, his wife of 44 years, Tommy has now become a leading campaigner on dementia.
A bit about Tommy
He’s also Chairman of the Service Users Reference Forum, which uses money raised through Red Nose Day to enable people with dementia and their carers to connect with each other and help shape policy, practice and attitudes.
“When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, at 58, I thought ‘That can’t be right? You have to be old to have dementia.’ I don’t feel ‘demented’. I also thought my life was over, that I’m going to be put in a home and people will forget about me.”
“The doctors took me off the anti-depressants I was on and put me on medication for Alzheimer’s. Within a couple of months I noticed a big improvement. I was happy again and back telling jokes.”
52 per cent of people with dementia in the UK do not receive a formal diagnosis.
Source: Alzheimer's Society
“Alzheimer’s changes your relationship with your wife 100%.You say things you wouldn’t normally say, without thinking. You lose empathy with people, along with emotions you once had. I don’t have the same feelings of affection that I used to.”
“From my wife’s perspective, it’s the same as bereavement because I’ve changed so much. She thinks, ‘I remember Tommy, but I haven’t got Tommy anymore’. It’s heart breaking for my wife, that’s why she says she has been grieving for the past three years.”
“When I’m with other people with dementia, we all share the same language and understand each other. People talk about how their partners or children speak on their behalf, they don’t let them speak for themselves. I’ve thought there’s nobody to speak up for them, so I’m doing it.”
“I don’t like to think I have a disability, I’m turning it into an ability. Alzheimer’s has given me the opportunity to talk to all sorts of people. It’s given me a purpose in life and a reason to get out of bed so I can go out and tell people that you can live well with dementia.”
Fundraise and make a difference
Improving life for people with dementia and their carers is very important to us and just one of the many issues we fund in the UK, together with our work in Africa. To join in this Red Nose Day, download a free fundraising kit.