Dementia Awareness Week: tackling dementia and seeking a diagnosis
This Dementia Awareness Week Nikki Trueman shares her struggle to reach a diagnosis for her father and advice on how you can support your family
"Our lives have always revolved around football, so when my dad lost interest in Match of the Day we knew something was seriously wrong. My dad, Ernie Moss, was a professional footballer who made a good living out of the game, worshipped by myself and fans.
My family realised about ten years ago that something was up. His whole demeanour changed, but losing interest in football really confirmed our worries, coupled with his moods. Dad is only 66 years old, which seems so young to have dementia.
It took ages to actually get him diagnosed because doctors didn’t believe that something was wrong - he was young and fit. They said "oh no he’s just depressed or he might have had a mini stroke."
We kept going back to the doctors and my dad also didn’t believe there was anything wrong with him. When doctors asked him how he was feeling, he’d always say he was fine. But we knew there was something wrong.
Eventually, we found a doctor who really listened to us and dad was diagnosed with Pick’s Disease, which is a rare form of dementia affecting the front of the brain. They’re not entirely sure because some symptoms overlap, but what we do know is that dad won’t get better. The 1970s and 1980s were his heyday and while he still has fond memories of those days, he can’t talk about them because his ability is disappearing due to dementia.
Dementia is a horrible disease, but I want to stand up to it - right from getting my dad a diagnosis to taking him to football matches. He’s the reason why I am trying to raise awareness of dementia and why I’m supporting the Alzheimer’s Society during Dementia Awareness Week (16-22 May).
I’ve also planned a celebrity football match at Chesterfield’s ground on Sunday 22 May. I’m doing this because, in my eyes, my dad is still as big a hero now as when he was a footballer.
You shouldn’t let it beat you and I’m trying to find a positive from negative. There’s little that I can do, but I’m doing this for him. Dementia can be a frightening thing, but you can do something about it.
The charity’s theme for Dementia Awareness Week is to confront dementia head on, to really tackle the disease. That’s what I am trying to do because that’s the way my dad has lived his life. It’s the least I could do after seeing how cruel dementia can be."
For details about the football match, which takes place at Chesterfield’s Stadium on Sunday, May 22, call 01246 269300. Anyone worried about dementia should contact the Alzheimer’s Society’s helpline on 0300 222 1122.