A STAFF nurse who witnesses the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s every day says he is delighted the disease is being put in the spotlight.
Coronation Street has been running with a storyline that shows the hurt caused by the debilitating disease, which can leave people confused, forgetful and can even change personalities.
ITV soap character Lesley Kershaw, played by Judy Holt, has been suffering with the condition as her husband Paul, played by actor Tony Hirst, struggles to look after her.
The scenes have been dramatic but Neil Sutheran, a staff nurse in Hartlepool who cares for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, believes they have captured the mixture of emotions the illness can cause.
Mr Sutheran, who works at Gretton Court care home, in Heather Grove, Hartlepool, said: “The soap has done well to show the confusion and forgetfulness that are often the first signs of the disease.
“There are little things people can pick up on and the faster they can be spotted, the more intervention they can receive, so it is great that it is being shown on national TV.
“It is an illness that effects families. It can be disturbing to see a family member with it and it can have radical effects on a person, until they don’t recognise their children or partners and their personality changes.”
In the soap, Paul and Lesley have now both moved into the house of Eileen Grimshaw, played by Sue Cleaver, who is Paul’s new girlfriend.
Apart from the love twist dimension to the storyline, Neil says the scenes in the home showing the three struggling to come to terms with the disease echo real life.
He said: “I think in general families try and keep their loved ones at home for as long as they possibly can, but it’s often not possible to look after them there.
“Sometimes the symptoms can take hold quickly and it is a degenerative disease, so the longer they have it the more faculties they lose and the more difficult it gets.
“One of the main reasons why people are referred to the care services is they can no longer take care of their personal hygiene, and that can be very distressing for spouses and relatives.
“They need full-time care because of their forgetfulness. They are more prone to have accidents, leave things turned on and not realise dangers.”