Terry Jones

By 25th January 2020 Media

I was 11 years old when my grandfather died with Alzheimer’s disease. Back in the 80s people didn’t talk about dementia the way we do now: I have often thought about the fact that at the church, where he worked forĀ  many years, no-one asked my Gran about him and his deteriorating mental state which was obvious for all to see. Dementia was regarded in the same way cancer was for many decades – an embarrassment, something to be ashamed of, something to be hidden, ignored. What a sad way for my Gran to have lived, unable to speak of her husband’s declining memory to anyone but my Mum and Dad who were, luckily, entirely sympathetic and supportive. When Terry Pratchett spoke so publicly about his dementia it had a huge impact on our world and I respected him deeply for it. Similarly when people such as Barbara Windsor and Terry Jones have highlighted the challenges this disease creates it means that the stigma reduces and enables others to share their stories. By sharing we increase understanding and reduce stigma, and we feel less alone. In the words of Sir Terry Pratchett: “The first step is to talk openly about dementia because it’s a fact, well enshrined in folklore, that if we are to kill the demon, then first we have to say its name.” I am relieved that we live in these times.

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