People need to sit up and take notice

Keith Hall from Blyth with his wife Isobel who has a form of early-onset alzheimers.
Keith Hall from Blyth with his wife Isobel who has a form of early-onset alzheimers.
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A DEVOTED husband-turned-campaigner has vowed to fight for people living with dementia after his wife was diagnosed with a form of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Keith Hall, of Blyth, has promised to make life better for those in the same boat as his wife Isobel, 51, who was told she had the condition last February.

“I have never felt as strongly about anything else in my life as I have felt about this,” said Keith.

“It really felt like I had been hit by a sledgehammer when we were told that she had dementia.

“I feel so passionately about campaigning for people who are living with Alzheimer’s because I’ve seen first-hand what an impact it has had on Isobel.

“I’m motivated because of the devastating way this disease has affected us. We need to raise awareness to make people sit up and take notice of dementia.”

Isobel was diagnosed as having a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease known as Posterior Cortical Atrophy and since then, Keith, also 51, has combined caring for her with becoming a vocal supporter of dementia suffers.

He said: “I honestly don’t know where I am getting the energy from but this is an issue that I feel so passionate about and I want to raise awareness as much as I can because it needs be brought out.

“If someone like me needs to stand up and explain how badly it has affected me over the last six months when it has really hit home then so be it.

“I want to make dementia as big an issue in the public eye as cancer is because for me this is just as big as cancer if not bigger. It is not just an old aged person’s disease – it can affect anyone at any age.”

According to Alzheimer’s Society research, the number of people with dementia in Northumberland is set to rise by 42 per cent from 4,404 in 2010 to 6,250 in 2021.

A new publicity campaign by the Department of Health has recently been launched to raise awareness of the first signs of illness.

“People are frightened because Alzheimer’s and dementia in general have such a stigma but the best thing they can do is be brave and seek an early diagnosis,” said Keith, a former industrial door fitter, who lives at Crawford Street.

“The sooner they seek expert help the better. An early diagnosis is so very important. Thanks to the medication that is available it might prolong the time you have got with your loved ones and it certainly means that you will get essential support,” he added.

The father-of-three and grandfather-of-seven is supported by Alzheimer’s Society staff at the charity’s Blyth office, which offers essential help, especially in the aftermath of an initial diagnosis.

“It is important that people take advantage of this new dementia adviser service,” he said.

“There has been a big, big void of information in the past – and that is the impression I get from everyone I speak to as regards dementia. When we got the diagnosis I didn’t really know where to turn. I didn’t have a clue where to turn. That made things harder.”

To contact the Alzheimer’s Society team in Blyth, call (01670) 366123.