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By Debbie le Quesne

Dementia: A cameo all policy makers should read

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A man who thought his wife no longer loved him has gone public about his experience after she was diagnosed with dementia, aged just 42.

Typically, it’s a Mail Online health story that gained some social media traction, but the case study of Linzi Thomas should be essential reading for all social care fund policy-makers.

A successful accountant and businesswoman, she was a loving and affectionate mum and wife.

But she began behaving strangely; refusing to wash or change her clothes and showing no interest in her family.

And it was only after her husband, Mike, pleaded for help that she was finally diagnosed with dementia.

Let me just offer some snippets from this story that made my eyes leak water.

Mike, 56, says: “When I met Linzi, I thought I’d found eternal love. We were soul mates.

“But she went from being a warm, attentive mum and wife to someone who didn’t wash or change her clothes or show me any love at all.

“We had once been so intimate and close yet all that stopped . . . I began to think she had fallen out of love with me or that she was having an affair.

“She went from being clinically clean and house-proud to existing in total squalor, surrounded by mouldy food and vomit. It was so distressing.

“In some ways, the diagnosis it was a huge relief. At last I knew what was wrong.”

Mike spent four years believing his wife no longer loved him and yet all of that time she was desperately ill.

The couple met 13 years ago and after their first date, on Valentine’s Day 2003, they were inseparable. They were married later that year, bought a smart family home, and started their own DIY business.

Mike says: “I fell head over heels for Linzi. She was an accountant, a deep thinker, and very cautious and thoughtful.

“She was a wonderful mum and home-maker and our home was spotless.

“We were so close – soul mates. We’d have fish and chips by the sea, or an evening playing Scrabble – simple things, but precious times.”

But six years ago, Linzi began acting strangely.

Mike says: “At first, it was very gradual. She had always been so attentive but she became withdrawn, she’d spend hours on the computer.

“She was almost like a teenager again, lost in her own world, and not making time for me and her daughter.

“When I was talking to her, she’d walk away, mid-conversation, as if she was bored by me.

“Every time I asked what was wrong, she would snap at me and tell me she was fine.

“I thought she had lost interest in me, that she didn’t love me. I began checking up to see if she was seeing someone else.”

Just reading this again fires me to do all I am able to help those wonderful care providers who make life so much better for people with this condition.

After seeking help from his GP, Mike was told Linzi needed to seek help herself.

The couple’s once-successful business went bankrupt and their house was repossessed.

Linzi, now 46, is currently in a care home and though she still recognises Mike, she has very little memory of their time together. She has a life expectancy of two to ten years.

Final quote: “My time with my wife is over, I can’t get that back, but it could be different for someone else and something needs to change.”

Indeed, things do need to change.

The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that there will be a million people with dementia in the UK by 2025. Can someone please tell me how will we care for them when the government agenda for social care appears to be so low priority?

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Written by debbielq

November 21, 2016 at 1:14 pm

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