Woman whose mum ‘doesn’t recognise kids’ shares warning signs of dementia

A mum diagnosed with dementia aged 56 now heartbreakingly struggles to recognise her own children.

Alarm bells first rang for Leanne Statham in 2017 when her mum, Elaine Deponeo, couldn't remember how to fill in the tax return for her car.

The former bookmaker, taxi firm boss and NHS worker from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire was encouraged by Leanne to see her GP after showing signs of memory loss, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Despite having symptoms of dementia, Leanne believes Elaine who was 54 at the time, was simply "fobbed off" due to her age and the condition was mistaken for depression.

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Three painful years later and Elaine, now 57, no longer remembers who her children are anymore and was moved into a care home last week.

"Dementia rips your family apart," Leanne told the Echo.

"You have to watch the person you love literally fade away right in front of your eyes and for this to happen while fighting for the correct care is utterly heartbreaking."

Leanne has spoken out to raise awareness of dementia and the barriers those under the age of 65 face when trying to get the right diagnosis and care.

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She has started an online petition in a bid to remove the age bracket for the illness, which she is encouraging others to sign.

Leanne said: "I spoke to the doctors privately and expressed my concerns. Obviously they couldn't give any information about my mum but I think they brushed it off because of her age.

"The moment your mum looks you in the eyes and no longer recognises you it's just heartbreaking.

"I feel like I've lost my mum, I feel like I'm grieving. She's only 57 – my heart actually hurts."

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It was not until occupational health at Elaine's workplace also expressed their concerns about the sudden changes in her behaviour, that she was referred to a clinical psychologist for further assessment.

In October 2019 "after a two year fight" Elaine was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia.

Leanne said: "By the time she was diagnosed we'd had an extension and she was already living with us.

"I don't want to blame any individual doctors or nurses and I understand the pressure the NHS is under at the moment. I think she's been let down by the system.

"If mum was older I would not have had to go through half the fight I've been through. I could have walked into a doctors and they probably would have taken a different approach."

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