David Houston knows what it’s like to live with dementia.
His mother, Hazel, was diagnosed with the condition six years ago.
The debilitating illness has left the 94-year-old frail, confused and in David’s words, “an empty vessel” – a heart-breaking condition which has seen her move from an active life with her husband Don to a high dependency nursing home where she is given the best care available.
Working as chief executive of Fylde’s Trinity Hospice, David sees many different cases of end-of-life care and he admits it helps cope with his own “journey” with dementia.
Seen by the world as one of the cruellest diseases, no two cases of dementia are the same. It can strike in early age and the patient can live with it for decades, or it can happen in the latter stages of life and last just a short time before the body starts to shut down.
Whatever the case, everyone’s journey is different and help is available at every stage of dementia, says David.
But it’s not always been like this.
“When mum was diagnosed, we weren’t even given a phone number for help,” David says. “I found out about dementia and its various stages from doing Google searches, and even that didn’t come up with a lot of answers.
“There was no support group, no hub, no-one to talk to, nothing. Families were just left to find out themselves and left to cope the best way they could while their loved ones became strangers to their loved ones.
“This has changed over the years though and now the condition has gained more exposure, there are more services out there for people to use.”
As a relative of someone suffering with late-stage dementia, David says it is critical that people are given as much information about it as possible as it will help with the journey.
He added: “Dementia is not an automatic death sentence. I remember when the D-word was mentioned it was like the C-word and people thought ‘well, that’s it then’ but it isn’t like that these days.
“The help is out there and people shouldn’t be afraid to find out about the help they can get.”
For more information on the Dementia hub on the Fylde, click here.