Dying from dementia
Tim Dartington's wife developed Alzheimer's disease at the age of 54 and died at home seven years later
- By: Tim Dartington
My wife, Anna, trained and worked as a nurse, social worker, and psychotherapist in the National Health Service. Symptoms had been developing over three years and we thought that it was likely she had Alzheimer's; after a series of other tests, this was confirmed by a brain biopsy in 2001. As she developed the signs of dementia and her professional life came to an end, I was learning all the time.
Throughout Anna's illness I became temporarily disorientated and angry whenever there was a significant further loss of capacity for us to cope with. At first it was losing keys or puzzling over a diary entry; later it was physical aggression or double incontinence.
I had some experience of health systems from my work as a social scientist, including a study of agency collaboration around elderly mentally infirm people in the 1980s. As Anna became increasingly dependent, I experienced the