Heart-breaking Christmas for people with dementia as one third unable to spend it with loved ones 

Christmas will never be the same again for the thousands of dementia sufferers unable to visit loved ones this Christmas, according to a new study from Alzheimer’s Society. 

More than 100,000 people in the North West are living with dementia and for them and their families Christmas has changed forever as over a third of people with dementia in the region are unable to visit loved ones and 29% are no longer able to recognise family members. 

Tragically one in four people with dementia are no longer able to take part in any Christmas activities and one in five are unable to hold a conversation with loved ones.

According to a new survey from Alzheimer’s Society, 65% of current carers say dementia has “robbed” them of a carefree and joyful festive season. 

It also found that 36% of carers surveyed in the North West, said they felt more emotionally drained and 14% felt more physically exhausted.

Darryl Atherton from Wigan cared for his wife Susan for six years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease until her death in January 2021.  

Darryl Atherton with his late wife Susan

Mr Atherton said: “The family would come together and go to the pub and Susan would make the Christmas dinner for everyone. In the years after Susan’s diagnosis in 2015, things started to change dramatically.

“Susan started to lose more and more confidence. It was so hard seeing someone who did everything become a person who was scared of her own shadow.” 

Mr Atherton described the festive season as particularly hard as it’s the anniversary of Susan’s death in January.

Another person who understands the emotional burden of caring for a loved one with dementia is English comedian Meera Syal CBE and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador.

She said: “I know only too well the devasting impact of dementia after my father died due to the condition, and earlier this year I also lost my mother to a rare form of dementia. 

“Our family cared for our parents for over a decade and so understand how emotionally draining and physically exhausting this can be for carers. It’s devastating to know how many other people up and down the UK have reached breaking point.” 

The charity is asking people to support their ‘12 Days of Christmas’ Appeal. 

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said: “Over a quarter of carers 27% we spoke to say the greatest Christmas gift they could receive would be talking to someone who understands. Our Dementia Advisers are just a call or a click away. They can give someone the guidance, advice, and empathy they desperately need.

“If you’re able to, please help us be there for everyone living with dementia this Christmas whatever the day brings, by donating to our Christmas Appeal.”

One in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime, Alzheimer’s Society vows to help end the devastation caused by dementia. 

For support or to donate to the ’12 Days of Christmas’ appeal visit

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