Families and friends of dementia sufferers share their concerns for festive season

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The vast majority – 86 percent – worry they will not be able to see them over the festive period, with almost half fearing this will be their loved one’s last. More than a third – 36 percent – worry about the sufferer being alone, with 29 percent saying it will be their first Christmas apart.

The survey of 1,002 adults by Relish, a dementia wellbeing company, found that nine in 10 respondents are anxious about the long-term impact of social distancing on their friend or relative’s wellbeing.

Four in 10 said their loved one is unhappier now than at the start of the year.

Relish founder Ben Atkinson-Willes said: “With more time spent apart, it is understandable that friends and family caring for loved ones with dementia may feel helpless and anxious – it is a particularly difficult time.

“And whilst there can never be any substitute for being in the company of your loved one, knowing how you can support their wellbeing and joy, even from afar, can help alleviate some concerns.”

Relish urges “daily moments of joy” through phone calls and letters and encouraging the person to stay active.

Author and campaigner Keith Oliver was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s aged 55. He is now 64 and has been isolating at his home in Canterbury, Kent.

The retired headmaster, who has three children and three grandchildren, said this Christmas he was lucky to have his wife Rosemary “but sadly so many people are alone”.

But he added: “More than half my care plan is based around doing more activities to help me keep well, some of which disappeared with the Covid-19 restrictions.”

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