For Mum: why I’m supporting the campaign for dementia research
The first time my mum asked me who I was, I couldn’t believe it.
We’d returned home after spending a lovely day exploring Liverpool, one of many outings we enjoyed together. But as we stood in our kitchen, she didn’t recognise me.
This was the moment when I slowly started losing my smart and elegant mum to Alzheimer’s disease. That was in 2014 and from then, our lives completely changed. Despite the early signs of Alzheimer’s, at this point, mum still went out shopping and went on holiday. But I had to reduce my working hours, so I could care for mum.
In 2018, mum became very disorientated, agitated and paranoid. She stopped wanting to go outside and if she did, it would only be for a few moments before she would want to go back in, which was really unlike her.
Last summer things got really bad. One day I found mum on her bedroom floor and I could not get her up. I had to call an ambulance and she was taken to hospital. Sadly, she never came home.
She went in with a urine infection, but then developed pneumonia. At one point, the doctors didn’t think she would pull through and I thought I had lost her.
Amazingly she did make it, but I had to make the tough decision to move Mum into a care home. I found a lovely place two miles from where we lived, and I would visit her every day.
In the last two weeks of her life, her Alzheimer’s was progressing rapidly. She became very withdrawn and wouldn’t eat or drink. I was with Mum when she died. She was 88, just two months short of her 89th birthday.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her.
Why I’m campaigning for dementia research
The past five years have been horrendous and I never imagined life would be this hard without her. But my experience has motivated me to do everything I can to stop other families from losing a loved one to dementia.
That’s why I signed up to become a Campaigner for Alzheimer’s Research UK and support the charity’s calls on government to double its funding for dementia research, as promised in the 2019 general election.
In February, I wrote to my MP, Paul Maynard, to share the charity’s report on how the government should invest the money, so we can find life-changing treatments sooner.
I was encouraged when he wrote back to me to say he fully supported the funding pledge and that he would monitor developments to ensure government delivered on its research commitment.
But since then, the world has been hit by COVID-19 and my concern is that government will not prioritise dementia research.
I am worried that funding will fall by the wayside because of COVID-19. Without this money, new treatments will be delayed, and more families will be forced to go through what we did.
So, I’m standing with Alzheimer’s Research UK, as the charity calls on government to deliver on its vow to double funding for dementia research.
I will be writing to my MP once again and urging him to help turn the promises made by government into reality, so we can make the breakthroughs we desperately need.
As dementia research needs our support more than ever before, I’d be incredibly grateful if you wrote to your MP too.
It’s only by coming together, will we make the biggest difference.
About the author
Paul Baxter became an Alzheimer’s Research UK Campaigner after losing his mother to Alzheimer’s disease. Having witnessed first-hand the devastation dementia causes, Paul backed the charity’s call for more government funding by writing to his MP, and is determined to all he can to help the search for life-changing treatments.