Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones has discussed what it was like caring for her mum after a dementia diagnosis.
Caring for a parent or grandparent living with dementia can be utterly devastating. Nobody wants to watch a loved one lose their memory, speech and understanding of the world. But the sad fact is that there will be an estimated two million people diagnosed with dementia in the UK by 2051. In this year alone, 225,000 people will develop the disease.
There is currently no cure for dementia, which is an umbrella term for different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function (such as Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease, vascular dementia). And yet, despite it being the leading cause of death in England and Wales, dementia is still hugely underfunded. For every person living with dementia, the annual cost to the UK economy is over £30,000 - yet only £90 is spent on research each year.
This is why it feels so important when high profile stars use their platform to raise awareness of the disease and share personal experiences which might comfort others.
Actor Carey Mulligan continues to campaign alongside Alzheimer’s Society after penning a heartbreaking letter to her late Nans who died of the disease. Now, Gentleman Jack actor Suranne Jones has opened up about her late mum, while promoting a charity fundraiser in a video.
Jones, who also starred in Doctor Foster and Scott & Bailey, lost her mum two years ago after she was diagnosed with vascular dementia.
While baking cupcakes for Alzheimer’s Society’s Cupcake Day with Paul Hoskins, who is living with a Pick’s disease diagnosis, Jones asked him a question that she never got the chance to ask her mum.
“One of the questions I would have liked to ask my mum. Her dementia kind of accelerated quite fast. So I wasn’t able to, but: what does it feel like to you?” she said. “Do you recognise in yourself that you have changed?”
Watch Suranne Jones talk about her mum’s dementia diagnosis
Hoskins replied saying that he finds it difficult to choose clothes and get dressed, which prompted Jones to add: “Yeah, my mum had that actually. She started to put two skirts on. Or she would put her top on back to front.”
Many others who have cared for a parent after a dementia diagnosis will likely relate to the feeling of having unanswered questions and watching the devastating symptoms take over.
Jones also said that she thinks people assume that dementia is a term only associated with old people. “My mum had vascular dementia for years,” she continued. “Sometimes, I think, when you say ‘dementia’, people think it’s old.” However, the reality is that there are over 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK right now.
This is why you should support dementia research by taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Cupcake Day on June 13. Whether you’re baking the goods or eating them – it sounds like an ideal way of raising essential funds for such an important cause.
Images: Getty & Alzheimer’s Society