David Cameron opens up to LBC about his mother’s ‘tragic’ Alzheimer’s diagnosis
March 28, 2022, 07:46 | Updated: March 28, 2022, 07:51
Former Prime Minister David Cameron shared his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s in an exclusive interview with LBC, saying the family motto is “just keep going”.
Mr Cameron, who has been chairman of Alzheimer’s Research UK since January 2017, told LBC’s Nick Ferrari over breakfast that his mother Mary had recently been diagnosed with the disease.
He said Mary, 87, is “frustrated” as she struggles to remember things but has a strong support system around her.
He told Nick: “Luckily we’re a very strong and close-knit family. I’m one of four siblings so we’re all trying to do our part and help out.
“She also has a lot of friends who have been amazing and come to see her all the time.”
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He added that she is “trying to say active.”
The former Tory MP fondly recalled a conversation with his mother about the Cheltenham races, where they talked about the event and whether she had backed any winners.
Nick also asked her what her disabled father, Ian, would have told his mother after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Ian suffered from severe disabilities and died in September 2010 at the age of 77.
“He never thought of himself as disabled, he sort of coped with it,” Mr Cameron said.
“So this is the family motto?”
“It’s the family motto,” Mr Cameron replied.
“My mom is like that. She doesn’t want anyone to fuss and she just fights. So I think that’s probably what he would say.”
Mr Cameron made it a priority when he was Prime Minister to tackle the disease, and now it has become painfully personal.
Almost a decade ago he launched a national dementia challenge, promising to tackle what he called a ‘quiet crisis’ – a tragedy that ‘steals lives and tears the hearts of families’ .
He pledged to double research spending, raise awareness, increase diagnosis and transform social care, persuading G8 leaders to hold a dementia summit.
He challenged scientists around the world to find a cure by 2025, or at the very least a drug that could slow the disease.
Speaking to Nick about the disease, Mr Cameron spoke of the ‘dark period’ his mother is going through with Alzheimer’s – which will soon affect a million people in the UK.
“It’s the thing everyone dreads,” Mr Cameron said.
“Alzheimer’s disease can flare up very quickly, and all of a sudden you can’t remember your loved ones, your friends, or what you’re doing. That’s why it’s such a tragic disease. “
He said it was not only frustrating for people when they started losing their memory, but it also affected “how you feel about life”.
He said it was important that we diagnose “better and earlier” so we are more likely to find treatments for those affected and said he wanted the “stigma” around the disease to end.
“At the moment we find out so late that it’s almost like treating cancer when the tumor is the size of a tennis ball,” he explained.
“Well, it’s hopeless – you have to get there sooner.”
He added that Britain “can lead on this, just as it did with Covid”, as he urged the government to step up its efforts.
In 2012, fewer than 800,000 people in the UK were living with dementia. There are now nearly a million.