A HUSBAND has shared how dementia has cruelly left his wife, 56, unable to walk, talk or eat in a series of heartbreaking photos.
Dominic Cardall says the debilitating condition “erased” his wife Gill in just four short years – leaving her wheelchair-bound, puree-fed and mute.
Mum-of-two Gill was just 52 years old when she was stricken with the rare form of dementia named progressive non-fluent aphasia in December 2015.
By summer 2016, the Women’s Royal Navy veteran found she was unable to speak and only able to communicate with her family by drawing ‘squiggles’.
She now needs 24-hour care.
Her husband Dominic, 55, has spoken how his once “life and soul of any party” wife is “slowly fading in every aspect”.
In a bid to show that dementia “can happen to anyone” he has bravely shared a series of images to show the swift and devastating impact the disease has had.
Early photos show Gill in the prime of her life, smiling for the camera at a party, her hair glowing blonde.
But as the photos progress, she is seen grey-haired and haggard, strapped in a wheelchair – clutching a toy doll like a child.
‘ERASED BY DEMENTIA’
Dominic, from Congleton, Cheshire, said: “Gill was the life and soul of any party … She loved to be the centre of attention. She was a very popular lady.
“[Now], she has become a frailer version of herself. It’s as if she is slowly fading in every aspect – physically, mentally and just in who she is. It’s like she’s being erased by [dementia].
She is slowly fading in every aspect … It’s like she’s being erased by [dementia].
“Gill now needs 24 hour care, including her personal care and feeding. She has to have pureed food because of swallowing and choking issues.”
Gill and Dominic married in 1986 after meeting in the Royal Navy in Plymouth.
They share two daughters, Emily, 30, and Georgia, 26, who now help with their mum’s care.
At first the family said they noticed Gill starting to struggle with her speech.
Dominic said: “She’d say the wrong word in a sentence or get a word mixed up.
“For example, she asked me to ‘get her handbag out of the carton’. She didn’t realise she wasn’t saying car.
“She’d say ‘I’d like a cup of hot water with a bag in it’, rather than a cup of tea.
“Her brain was trying to work things out but getting them wrong, or mixed up.”
She’d get words mixed up or couldn’t find the right word.
And as her speech deteriorated, her personality also began to change.
Dominic said: “She became less empathetic. She was always the most kind, loving person you could ever meet.
“She also became very sharp with people, as if her inhibitions had gone completely. We’d go to a cafe and Gill would shout the waiter ‘coffee, coffee!’
At the end of 2015, Gill was diagnosed with ‘advanced’ dementia but her husband said she was “in complete denial”.
He explained: “She’d just keep saying ‘it’s just my speech, it’s not dementia’.”
The disease progressed quickly and by August 2016 Gill had lost virtually all her speech, communicating through symbols or squiggles.
Within two years, Gill was confined to a wheelchair as she struggled to walk properly with the family converting the dining room into a bedroom.
He is now urging people ‘to push’ for a diagnosis if they notice something isn’t right and admits there is little support for victims of early-onset dementia.
WHAT IS YOUNG ONSET DEMENTIA?
Of the estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, just five per cent [42,325] of those have young onset dementia.
Symptoms are often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety when people are of working age.
Symptoms include memory loss, problem solving difficulties, difficulty reading or judging distance, changes in personality, and withdrawal.
There is currently no known cure for dementia.
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