IT was an early diagnosis that stopped dementia sufferer Tony Garrood’s life sliding into chaos.
Now the retired Huddersfield University lecturer is backing an NHS campaign to raise awareness of the illness.
The campaign targets the family and friends of people at risk, teaching them to recognise the signs and encourage their loved one to see their GP.
The campaign will feature TV, radio and print adverts to be piloted in Yorkshire.
Tony, 64, of Holmfirth, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – a form of dementia – four years ago.
The father-of-four was diagnosed after his daughter Penny, a doctor, noticed he was struggling with work on her husband’s farm.
Tony, who headed Huddersfield University’s environmental sciences department, said: “I was helping out with the lambing on Penny’s husband’s farm and she noticed I was getting the feed measurements muddled up.
“She suggested I should see my GP, who was very supportive. He sent me to a memory clinic and, after tests, I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.
“It was very difficult to come to terms with at first – it was a real hammer blow. But then I realised that it isn’t the end of everything and that I could still do the things I wanted to, particularly because my dementia was diagnosed at an early stage.”
Tony now takes regular medication for his condition – and keeps active.
He’s taken part in four long-distance cycling challenges since his diagnosis and regularly swims, walks and visits the gym.
Tony, a former Holme Valley Parish councillor said: “For me, it’s all about keeping as mentally and physically active as you can.”
He added: “If you’re worried about your memory – or about a relative who has memory problems – it is absolutely essential you get it checked out as quickly as possible.
“It is difficult to take that first step, but once you know what it is, you can get medical treatment that could help slow down the process.”
Tony’s wife, Jacqueline, added: “The diagnosis was very hard for the whole family, but at least we know we’ve done the best we can to manage the disease and plan for the future.
“It’s all about taking steps to adapt and handle things as positively as possible.”
Dementia is the degeneration of the brain beyond what would be considered the result of normal ageing.
It can be caused by injury, illness or a sudden brain event, such as a stroke.
Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, hallucinations and difficulty solving problems.
Official figures suggest that 60% of people (400,000) with dementia have not been diagnosed with the condition.
For more information on mental health services in Kirklees visit: www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk.