Former Derbyshire Police employee celebrates Christmas with family after being diagnosed with dementia

A former Derbyshire Police employee celebrated Christmas with family in a care home after he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia three years ago.

Ian Burton, a former solider and a technical support worker for Derbyshire Police, has lived at Barrowhill Hall care home in Rocester for the last three years and although the family can’t spend the day as they used to, his wife Wendy says the home always makes the day as special for them as they can.

She said: “Christmas was always a big affair in our house. We would have Bucks Fizz and croissants in the morning and then we’d open presents with our three daughters, Emma, Rachel and Sophie. 

“Ian would always put a lot of energy into playing with them and their new toys. We’d all go for a walk with the dogs and then spend the afternoon watching telly. It was lovely.”

But the last Christmas Ian had at home was a very different experience.  Diagnosed with behavioural variant fronto-temporal dementia at the age of 50, three years in his symptoms had become more pronounced.  

Wendy said: “He wanted to walk all the time and we couldn’t keep him indoors. He was in and out of other people’s houses and the whole experience was very stressful. 

“He went to Barrowhill Hall for respite in October 2016 and spent his first Christmas there that year. 

“There was a big space in our house, it was very sad, but much as we missed him it was a relief to know he was safe and well-cared for.”

More than 42,000 people in the UK are estimated to have young onset dementia, a term used to describe dementia that starts before the age of 65.

It is also described as ‘early-onset dementia’ and ‘working-age dementia’. 

Ian’s behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) affects the parts of the brain responsible for complex thinking, personality and behaviour. 

One of the greatest changes it has brought about in him is that he is constantly on the move and Wendy says Barrowhill Hall is ideally suited to his needs.

Wendy added: “We always visit him on Christmas Day and if he decides not to sit with us for long, that’s ok.”