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Emmerdale: helping to raise awareness of vascular dementia

On a daily basis we speak to clients who are caring for relatives and loved ones in the advanced stages of dementia and we understand how upsetting it is for everyone involved so we welcome Emmerdale’s hard-hitting and accurate portrayal of dementia.

Have you seen the powerful vascular dementia story-line on Emmerdale where one of the characters, Ashley Thomas, is diagnosed with young onset dementia? On Tuesday evening, viewers of the soap saw Ashley’s story-line take a dramatic turn as the confused vicar left hospital on his own before making his way out onto the streets. Viewers saw him walking down the street in his pyjamas and heard him tell himself “Keep going. It’s all right. I can find it. I can get home.” The episode was part of the on-going dementia awareness story-line which is winning praise from charities and viewers alike for its accurate portrayal of early onset vascular dementia.

Actor John Middleton, who plays Ashley Thomas, has been the much-loved vicar in Emmerdale for 20 years. He appeared on This Morning yesterday to discuss Emmerdale’s dementia storyline and told presenter Ruth Langford that the episode was extremely important as it showed the viewers how Ashley saw the world through his eyes.

John explained that Ashley “thinks he’s fully clothed, but he’s not, he’s in his pyjamas, people are concerned about him but he feels threatened by this and he goes into a shop – he doesn’t know where he is and money doesn’t make any sense anymore.” Ashley was also seen struggling to use public transport while his wife Laurel frantically scoured the Dales trying to find him.

Dementia – the umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders – comes in many forms. Types of dementia include vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, young onset dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies and some people may present with a combination of types.  Whilst most people associate dementia with memory loss, the condition affects people in a wide variety of ways and regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.

Vascular dementia, the type portrayed by Ashley, can occur when blood flow to the brain is restricted, often through a series of small strokes, resulting in a progressive decline in people’s ability to think things through, reason, communicate and remember. It can also have an impact on their personality, behaviour and mood however everyone’s experience of dementia is unique and the progression of the condition varies.  850,000 people in the UK are living with a form of dementia and it is estimated nearly 150,000 of these have vascular dementia.

If you have been able to identify with the story-line or you have a relative or loved one in the advanced stages of dementia, you may be entitled to NHS continuing healthcare funding. Compass CHC are specialists in securing on-going funding and recovering care costs. If you would like information relating to your particular circumstances, one of our experts would be more than happy to discuss matters with you on a completely free, confidential and no obligation basis. Call us on 0121 227 8940 or fill out our online contact form

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