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‘Dementia has robbed us of Christmas’

How dementia patients and carers struggle to make the festive season a joyful one amidst the challenges of the disease

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A third of people with dementia will be unable to visit loved ones this Christmas and a quarter will be unable to take part in any activities, it has been revealed – highlighting the loneliness many will face during the festive season. 

The survey, from the Alzheimer’s Society, also highlights the situation for carers, with 65 per cent of those caring for loved ones with dementia saying it has “robbed” them of a carefree and joyful Christmas. 

The findings again lay bare the devastation caused by dementia, highlighting the emotional and physical impact of the terminal disease on families at Christmas.

In the survey, the charity revealed that since 2022, one third of people with dementia are cut off and unable to visit loved ones, while one in four (24 per cent) people with dementia are no longer able to take part in any Christmas activities.

A quarter no longer recognise family or friends and one in five (21 per cent) are unable to hold a conversation with loved ones.

Caring for a loved one with dementia at Christmas is also taking its toll on carers, with the challenges faced all year round becoming even more profound during what is traditionally such a joyous time.

Over a third (38 per cent) say they felt more emotionally drained, and a quarter (25 per cent) felt more physically exhausted. Nearly one in ten (nine per cent) said they were at ‘breaking point’.

Nicky Moorey, 67, from Somerset, has been married for 35 years to Adrian, 77, who has dementia. This is the first Christmas she will spent without her husband, as he now lives in residential care. 

“When you see your loved one unable to participate in the festivities like they used to, it generates a feeling of great sadness and loss at a time of year that should be filled of smiles and laughter,” she said. 

“Adrian has always been the life and soul of Christmas but since he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2017, Christmas has lost its sparkle and recently his physical condition has deteriorated rapidly.

“As a carer you end up doing everything. It’s lonely and isolating, I used to have to feed him and help him open his presents. Now he’s living in a care home, making this our first Christmas without him.

“Christmas won’t be the same without Adrian at home. Dementia has left a massive hole in our lives which we can never replace, we all miss him and wish he was here around the table with us.”

Kate Lee, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “One in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. Christmas should be joyful but for many of the 900,000 people living with dementia and their families, their Christmases have changed forever.

“Over a quarter of carers we spoke to say the greatest Christmas gift they could receive would be talking to someone who understands. Our dementia advisers are just a call or a click away. They can give someone the guidance, advice, and empathy they desperately need.”

HIWIN

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