Nothing has surprised me more, since becoming an MP, than the extent to which dementia is a part of so many families’ lives today.
My family has been lucky in this respect. None of my parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles has suffered from it.
Many of them have died of cancer, and I have had it too. But we have avoided that gradual fading of the light that afflicts so many people in Britain and causes such heartache to so many families.
It is because dementia is so widespread that I disagree with those who thought that the treatment of Margaret Thatcher’s dementia in the film, The Iron Lady, was in bad taste.
We need to get rid of any lingering stigma that may attach to dementia, help people understand that it can afflict anyone and give them the information they need to recognise its onset – be that in themselves and/or in others.
Meryl Streep’s wonderfully sympathetic portrayal of the wanderings of an elderly Margaret Thatcher’s mind is both moving and instructive.
It reminds us that even those with the sharpest of intellects and the most energetic lives can become victims of this creeping disease.
On 3rd February I have invited Professor Alistair Burns, Britain’s dementia tsar, to Grantham to meet with local dementia sufferers and their carers to discuss how we can develop better services for dementia patients, and ensure that as far as possible they can be cared for and supported at home and in the community.
I know that they will approach this meeting with the calm resilience and good humour that characterises all the dementia sufferers, that I have met - and that, I am told, also characterises Margaret Thatcher as she travels through the final chapter in her long and extraordinary life.
by Nick Boles
MP for Grantham