FOOTBALLER Robbie Savage returned to his home town to highlight the issue of dementia.
The illness is close to the heart of the Derby County midfielder as his father Colin has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for eight years.
He was speaking at the the launch of a new partnership between Tesco, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Scotland, which has for the first time mapped the state of dementia and diagnosis levels in the UK, and announced plans to help fight the disease.
Speaking to the Leader at the launch event at Tesco in Wrexham, Mr Savage said it was “heartbreaking” to see his dad suffer.
He said: “He retired at an early age of 55 and we could tell there was something up with him.
“He would go playing pool in Wrexham and would come across a bit rude as if drunk but he wasn’t aggressive or bad mannered.
“My mum pushed and pushed to find out what it was and he was diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a form of Alzheimer’s.
“We wouldn’t have known to this day if we hadn’t been to see people.
“It’s soul destroying to see the man I idolise fighting such a cruel disease.
“It’s so important that we raise awareness of dementia in North Wales otherwise in 10 years time nearly 11,000 people will go undiagnosed with the condition and will not have access to the care and support they need.”
Mr Savage, who recently popped back to Wrexham to see Sunday League match the Brynteg Inn and Red Lion Marford, said he wanted to highlight the fact that Alzheimer’s can happen at any age.
Figures released from the Alzheimer’s Society revealed that by 2021 almost 10,900 people will be living in the Betsi Cadwaladr Trust are with dementia that has gone undiagnosed.
The new partnership now plan to raise £5million to build a better future for people with dementia and help to raise diagnosis levels.
Geoff Lang, executive director of primary care, community and mental health services at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said it is also developing a dementia action plan in line with Welsh Assembly Government guidelines.
“This focuses on reducing the risk of harm to people with dementia and their carers in addition to improving the quality and safety of patient care across all areas of the service.
“We are working closely with local authorities and the third sector to achieve this.
“This will help establish an earlier diagnosis for dementia sufferers and allow the right treatment or support to be planned more effectively.
“Raising awareness of the issues around dementia will allow the symptoms to be more easily recognised and improve diagnosis rates.”