Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 13:08 UK

Author slams poor dementia help

Matthew Hill
BBC Points West Health Correspondent


Sir Terry Pratchett talks about living with Alzheimer's

The Wiltshire author Sir Terry Pratchett has said the lack of memory clinics offering support to people with dementia "disgusts him".

Sir Terry was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's in December 2007.

Memory clinics, which help diagnose dementia and provide support to sufferers, are crucially important.

In Wiltshire there are four memory clinics and in Bristol there are two. In Gloucestershire there is none and in Somerset there are seven.

"It is good to meet others even though it may not seem like the best idea," said Sir Terry.

"Knowing you're not alone - that it's not some disease that had been cooked up just for you - that helped."

It's astonishing to me that it's taking so long for anything like widespread memory clinics to happen
Sir Terry Pratchett

The type of Alzheimer's Sir Terry has affects what he can visualise and gives him problems manipulating objects.

"It's very strange because people keep saying to me 'there's nothing wrong with you, you use long words like marmalade' ...but you're not there when I'm getting dressed and if there's a shirt sleeve out backwards I have to stop and think," he said.

"While I suspect there's very few families in this country that have not been touched by the disease in some way, it's still hidden, it's still secretive.

"People have the wrong ideas and it's astonishing to me that it's taking so long for anything like widespread memory clinics to happen."

The government has recently pledged to set up a memory clinic in every town within five years.

So far £150m has been earmarked for the strategy for England in response to rising dementia rates.

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