Barbara vows to keep fighting

BARBARA POINTON has done much to change the face of Alzheimer s – and after the recent death of her husband has vowed to continue the fight. Barbara has long been committed to raising the illness awareness, after her husband, Malcolm, was diagnosed with

BARBARA POINTON has done much to change the face of Alzheimer's - and after the recent death of her husband has vowed to continue the fight.

Barbara has long been committed to raising the illness' awareness, after her husband, Malcolm, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 15 years ago.

The illness had a devastating impact on his life and after a long battle he died three weeks ago at their home in Thriplow.

But a defiant Barbara said: "I will continue to raise the profile of the illness and make sure that sufferers and their carers get a better deal.

"I can't let go now and I feel I still have a lot to do - there's unfinished business."

Barbara received an MBE in June for her services to people suffering with dementia: a service that has included campaigns, conferences, documentaries and a successful fight for free NHS care.

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As a result she has gone a long way in removing the stigma surrounding the disease, and Barbara said that since Malcolm's diagnosis "dementia had come a long way, but was still a way behind other illnesses".

She said: "Alzheimer's is in the position that cancer was 40 years ago.

"However, I do think its awareness and knowledge has increased and I would like to think that our involvement has helped people come to terms with living with dementia."

The couple's life became the focus of the television documentary Malcolm and Barbara: A Love Story, which went a long way in helping people understand the disease. So much so it was voted among Channel 4's The 50 Greatest Documentaries.

Barbara described Malcolm as a wonderful husband and father.

"Life with Malcolm was full of music, wit and humour. He could make me laugh until my sides ached," said Barbara.

She also talked about his talent as a musician, a talent that first caught her attention as an upper sixth student at their school in Stoke-on-Trent.

Barbara said: "He had a lot of musical fingers in many musical pies. I first heard him play when we were at school and his music left me in awe."

Barbara and Malcolm met up again at Birmingham University, before working alongside each other at Homerton College. They married in April 1964.

Barbara said: "Our time together was full of life. But although we spent a lot of time together, it was obviously shorter than I would have liked, but still very full."

Malcolm was laid to rest after a private family service at their home. It consisted of poems from their grandchildren, readings, prayers and music.

Barbara described the service as "very beautiful" and said that "it was a farewell to Malcolm and a celebration of his life".

Barbara also talked about her commitment to the Alzheimer's Society which she feels has been a great support.

"It has been marvellous and I want to give something back.

"My aim is to see more sources available and I think communities need to be given a dementia nurse who can assist and give advice," said Barbara.

"There still needs to be improvements made in the palliative care stage, where there is a real gap.

"There's so much that comes with this illness and even to the end I was still learning."

She continued: "I think that Malcolm will be remembered, among other things, for what he has done for Alzheimer's.

"He has helped shed a lot of light into a lot of dark corners."

She added: "Life with Alzheimer's is like a bird being trapped in a cage. Malcolm has been set free."

- The Cambridgeshire branch of the Alzheimer's Society can be contacted on 01223 884031.

Report recommendations

A REPORT for the Alzheimer's Society by the London School of Economics and King's College, London, has recommended

- Dementia to be made a national health and social care priority

- Increased funding for dementia research

- Improved dementia skills across health and social care

- Developed community support

- Guaranteed carer support packages

- A national debate on who pays for care

- Development of comprehensive dementia care models