Dementia is statistically the UK’s biggest killer. Every year around 67,000 people die from the disease, a number greater than the capacity of the London Olympic Stadium. As a result, scientists are hard at work to develop new treatments and potentially a cure for all forms of dementia, including frontotemporal dementia. One of the rarer forms of dementia, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), causes problems with behaviour and language.
In common with all forms of the condition FTD causes several symptoms among patients.
These can arise in all manner of ways in different areas of the individual’s life, including when they eat.
According to charity Alzheimer’s UK, patients may “crave sweet, fatty foods, or carbohydrates and forget their table manners”.
The charity adds: “They may also no longer know when to stop eating, drinking alcohol, or smoking.”
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FTD has received a greater level of press and scientific attention in recent years in part due to the impact it has had on one notable member of the sporting theatre.
In 2014, Sir Stewart’s wife Helen was diagnosed with FTD.
Rather than despairing about the diagnosis, Sir Stewart allowed it to galvanise him.
In response to the challenge, he launched Race Against Dementia.
Race Against Dementia aims to take a sporting approach to dementia research.
By adding a sense of urgency and pace to proceedings, it hopes to increase the rate at which science moves towards a dementia breakthrough.
Doctor Cara Croft – one of the charity’s leading scientists – says a new treatment for dementia could become available within the next 10 years.
While this is beneficial for the patients of the future, it leaves the patients of the present in a state of managed decline.
Dementia can be hard to quantify or to comprehend unless one goes through the experience of losing a family member.
When that tragic event occurs the family and the individual suffer not one, but two deaths.
The second death is that of the body, when it finally succumbs to the disease.
However, the first is potentially the hardest, that of mind, the point where both sides of the dementia divide no longer recognise the person they once loved and once held.