Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Charity urges dementia awareness over festive period


As families gather for the festive period, a charity is urging people to look out for the signs of dementia in elderly relatives.

The Alzheimer's Society said Christmas was often the only time families saw each other all year.

The charity has called for people to look out for symptoms in relatives.

Initial signs of the condition, which is caused by diseases of the brain, may include short-term memory loss that affects every day life, problems with thinking or reasoning, or unexplained anxiety, anger or depression.

It is also advising anyone concerned that they may have dementia to visit their GP to get a proper diagnosis.

Presenter and Alzheimer's Society ambassador Fiona Phillips, whose parents both had dementia, said that if her mother had been diagnosed earlier then she could have handled the situation better.

She said: "I remember one Christmas when my husband and I arrived at Mum and Dad's and found Mum distant and cold.

"There was no food in the house at all and she seemed to have forgotten we were coming.

"We didn't realise then that she was already suffering badly with Alzheimer's.

"It took another while before she received her diagnosis - if only we had gotten it sooner, I would have been able to plan things, instead of doing everything in a big rush.

"It could also have prevented things happening like my mum setting the kitchen on fire.

"When you have an early diagnosis there are things you can do."

An Alzheimer's Society spokeswoman said that one in three people over 65 would develop dementia.

Research by the charity shows that 800,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, this figure is predicted to soar to one million within a decade.