Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

Last week’s column highlighted Esther Rantzen and her work setting up The Silver Line, a much needed telephone helpline designed to alleviate loneliness in older people.

This week it’s another TV icon in the spotlight. Angela Rippon and I work together on the BBC Consumer Affairs programme Rip Off Britain (which will be returning to a small screen near you in the autumn!) but we met up in London recently for an altogether different cause.

We were both speaking at The Alzheimer’s Show, an exhibition at Olympia providing information for anyone affected in any way by Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, be that professionals, carers or those living with it.

I was there to cover the legal side on a ‘Question Time’ panel moderated by Angela and also deliver a separate presentation on wills, lasting powers of attorney and advance decisions and advance statements, which are a way of planning ahead for the kind of medical treatment and care you would like to receive in certain circumstances.

Angela is an Ambassador for The Alzheimer’s Society and so gives her time to help raise awareness of a condition that was once swept under the carpet but is now - thankfully - discussed more openly.

Angela has also been heavily involved in promoting dementia friendly communities, of which more next week.

Whilst waiting to to go on and do my bit I had the privilege to have a few quiet minutes in the Speakers Room with Dr Jennifer Bute. Dr Bute is a retired GP who diagnosed her own early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

She is a glass half full person and for her the diagnosis has become a “glorious opportunity” to understand what she calls “this hurt section of society”.

She is truly inspirational in that even though her own memory is now fading she is determined to tell the world that ‘she’ is still in there somewhere and because of that she and others living with the same condition should be treated with kindness and dignity because they still have a great deal of living to do.

She is without doubt living well with dementia.