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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
Caring for someone with Alzheimer's
Elderly hands
Many people with Alzheimer's rely on loved ones to care for them
Opponents of a decision to restrict Alzheimer's drugs to patients with moderate-stage disease say the benefits of the medicine on the lives of carers have been underestimated.

Kenneth Burke, who lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is 84-years old and a full-time carer for his wife Margaret who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease nine months ago.

Mr Burke, who has been married for 58 years, says he is angry she has been denied drugs that may help her because her condition is not yet severe enough.

They should be ashamed of themselves
Kenneth Burke

He says at first his wife started to become forgetful, not being able to remember recipes when she was cooking or finding the crossword difficult.

"She went to hospital and had the test but apparently she fared better than they thought she would so they said 'you can't have the drugs'.

"It's common sense to stop people getting ill rather than waiting until they get worse."

The government's drugs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, is now being taken to court over its decision on the drugs.

Every day, Kenneth has to get Margaret, 82, up and dressed, make her breakfast and then do the housework and shopping.

He has some help from his son, daughter-in-law and grandson who live nearby.

Health problems

"I get a little bit of money from the state for looking after her but it's hard work, we have been let down.

"I'm saving the government money when you think how much it costs to put someone in hospital."

Kenneth, who was a self-employed electrician before he retired, also has health problems and suffers from severe asthma.

We shouldn't be blaming NICE for doing their job
Alex MacAskill, Colchester

He manages to do some gardening and grows his own vegetables but the couple can no longer go on their annual three-month trip to Spain.

"The past couple of years have been hard and we haven't had any support from the local authorities."

He does not believe that his wife, who used to work as a secretary, should be denied the drugs on the basis of cost.

"It's no good talking about money, I'd like to know how much it's cost us with Iraq and Afghanistan. I bet it runs into billions.

"And they're talking about little bits here and there. They say we can't have these drugs because they cost 2.50 a day.

"They should be ashamed of themselves."

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