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Kelly Fraser, from Walderslade, speaks out about husband's battle with Alzheimer's

By Jenni Horn

Ian Fraser, from Walderslade, was diagnosed with the disease aged just 47, a few weeks after his young son Tommy started school.

Less than four years on, Ian’s condition has deteriorated rapidly.

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Ian, Kelly and seven-year-old Tommy Fraser

Ian, Kelly and seven-year-old Tommy Fraser

His wife Kelly, a Pride in Medway finalist, has previously spoken about their struggles in a bid to make more people realise Alzheimer’s does not just affect older people.

This week, during Dementia Awareness Week, she has shared more of her heartbreaking story.

Since last speaking to the Medway Messenger, Kelly has seen Ian sectioned after he became aggressive. He spent weeks in hospital.

She said: “You can see that Ian is ill now. He is in the final stages.

“On our anniversary I went to see him in hospital when he was under section.

“I thought I would make an effort, even though he would not appreciate it, so I took him a card and some chocolates.

“But he started getting aggressive while I was there. I looked at him then and thought, ‘you don’t know who I am. You are smiling at me because I am smiling at you but you really don’t know who I am’. I couldn’t see him for a while after that.

“It broke my heart.”

Ian has familial Alzheimer’s – a rare form of the disease that strikes earlier in life, usually between 50 and 65 years of age, but as Kelly and her family have discovered it can be earlier.

She said “It has been a hard lesson learnt. There is so little awareness. Everyone says he is too young. It has been a constant battle to make people aware of how serious and how unkind this illness is.

“When Ian got ill we were hitting wall after wall. People were turning us away, saying he was too young, that he had to be 50 or above.”

As Ian’s illness progressed, Kelly found herself faced with a different type of battle – when strangers would judge his behaviour in public.

She said: “People used to look at him like he was weird or crazy. I almost wanted him to have a sign around his neck saying ‘I’ve got dementia’.

Father and son Ian and Tommy

Father and son Ian and Tommy

“Sometimes I did get to the point where I would say to people, ‘Back off, he’s not well, he’s got Alzheimer’s’.

“Then they would look at me like I was lying, they didn’t believe me because they thought he was too young, that I was just making an excuse for his behaviour.”

She added: “People have got to stop putting it down to age. Dementia is the symptom not the disease. Alzheimer’s is full blown brain damage in the end. It takes you.

“More funding is needed for dementia. I think the lack of funding comes from a lack of awareness.

“Dementia is getting overlooked as people see it as only affecting those at the end of their lives anyway.

“People need to put that money in the pot as they are coming out of the supermarket.”

Ian’s mother Eileen passed away with dementia aged 50, and his brother Alex and sister Susan also died of the same condition, at 52 and 49.

Visit www.alzheimers.org.uk to support Dementia Awareness Week.

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