John Barnes opens up on tragic struggle after family member diagnosed with dementia

Jon Barnes opens up on his aunt’s dementia on GMB

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Dementia describes a syndrome linked to an ongoing decline of brain functioning. Although there are many different types of this syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent. John Barnes has shared that his aunt received the confirmation of this mind robbing condition “all of a sudden”.

Barnes, who won two league titles with Liverpool, said: “My aunt who was a dancer, a squash player, all of a sudden 18 months ago, she got diagnosed with dementia.

“And it hurts the families.

“As much as we advocate for the sufferers, it’s the families who have it hard as well and we have to support them.”

Barnes’ aunt is one of the 900,000 people suffering from this condition in the UK.

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Sadly, Alzheimer’s Society warns that this number is set to rise even higher in the coming years.

While dementia is mainly associated with memory loss, it can also affect how you think, speak, feel and behave.

The main symptoms of dementia to spot include problems with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental sharpness and quickness
  • Language (using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking)
  • Understanding
  • Judgement
  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Difficulties doing daily activities.

These symptoms usually get worse as more time passes, with the later stages of dementia leaving people unable to take care of themselves.

Dementia patients may also eventually lose their ability to communicate.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you or someone else is suffering from dementia symptoms.

Even though there is no cure for dementia at the moment, a prompt diagnosis could slow down the condition, leaving the person able to maintain their mental function for longer.

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Barnes added that football provides a platform that is able to highlight the mind-robbing condition.

He said: “And of course highlighting it is a start.

“The most important thing for us is to understand it, talk about it and not be ashamed.

“A lot of people are embarrassed but having the conversation and doing something about it is vital.”

How to reduce dementia risk?

Although there’s no certain way of preventing dementia, research shares that a healthy lifestyle could help cut your risk of the brain condition.

Researchers agree that what works for good heart health also seems to be potent for good brain health.

According to the NHS, these interventions could help:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping alcohol within recommended limits
  • Stopping smoking
  • Keeping your blood pressure levels in check.

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