Edward Nott has lived in Gravesend his entire life, working various jobs in order to support his family as best he could. Now, he’s living with the incurable disease Alzheimer’s and it’s trying to take away everything he worked hard for. By Ben Puxty.
‘Ted’ as he likes to be called was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease early last year after his family noticed he was having more and more trouble with his memory.
His youngest daughter of three, Alexandra said that although his memory isn’t always terrible, on some of his worst days he’s even forgotten who she was.
“He has his good days and his bad days, on a couple of very bad days he has even forgotten my name or confused me with my older sister.”
However, as he is still in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the bad days are not very common.
Today appeared to be a good day, because as soon as he opened the door you could tell he knew exactly who his daughter was. He had completely forgotten I was coming along though until Alex jogged his memory.
As I entered the living room I was greeted by the sound of a very loud television. “Sorry about the TV, he’s deaf in one ear but too stubborn to put in his hearing aid,” Alex informed me before turning it off.
One thing that became very apparent when looking around the room was his love for television and film. All of them on display in an 8×7 cabinet that much have been at least 6ft tall.
The DVD’s in the cabinet were not the end to his film collection though. There were tons more stacked next to the shelf as well with almost every storage unit in his home at least containing a few.
I have never seen a DVD collection of this size before in my life, there must have been well over 500 DVD’s in the living room alone, with films and tv shows from all different genres.
Based off his hoard of films though it was obvious he had a great appreciation for war films, especially those surrounding the topic of the second World War. He had what seemed every movie to ever document even the smallest parts of the war in his living room.
Films were clearly a passion of his, and always had been.
Ted was very proud of his film collection, even though he admits he still hasn’t got round to watching them all, “There’s just too many to watch at this point I think, I just don’t see myself every getting round to watching them all as much as I would like to.”
He also told me about the various professions he worked in during his life, including time as an electrician, a painter and a school cleaner. But it was clear there was one job he preferred to the rest, and that was his time as a butcher. “Straight from school I went and worked in the local butchers, and within a month I was an expert at getting every possible piece of meat you could from an animal.
“It was different in those days; you didn’t need any qualifications. You would just go in, ask about a job and if they had one you were put straight to work.”
Ted, who is also the grandfather to seven ranging from 8 to 25 years old, also had photos on display all around the living room. With pictures of his various children and grandchildren on display, as well as photo albums showing off the eventful life he has led so far. He said he liked having photos around the house as they help with his memory.
“I like to flip through the photo albums quite regularly because I really struggle to remember things, and I really don’t want to forget the important things that have happened in my life.”
He seemed to enjoy having someone new to tell his stories to, with him sharing tales from all different parts of his life, “When I was a lot younger me and my mates used to have a real rivalry with one town policeman.
I can’t remember his name anymore, but he used to always throw us out the pub for underage drinking, which of course we were. So every now and then, because he only had a push bike we would get him to ride all the way up the hill only to be gone by the time he got there”. He told me this story at least three times while I was there without realising, with Alex having to correct his stories in different ways each time.
This was one of the biggest indications of how dementia and more specifically Alzheimers in this case can affect a person, as one of the main results of dementia is memory loss.
These are not the only symptoms of dementia however, with each of the various different types of dementia affecting a person differently.
Edward Pinches from Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “Dementia is the name given to a number of symptoms of a number of different diseases.
“Therefore, people can present a number of symptoms, depending on which disease they have and which part of their brain is affected.”
It was very odd to experience it first hand. One minute he would be walking down memory lane sharing tales from his past, with every small detail he could remember. Then almost in an instant, he would become very confused about where he was and struggle to answer simple questions.
It wasn’t easy for me to watch Ted, a man whom I barely know, struggling to remember what day of the week it is, let alone for his daughter to witness it. “Sometimes I find it really hard to come here and visit him, I really don’t like seeing him this way.
“The only thing that makes me come back each time are the moments when he is himself.”
Spending time with someone diagnosed with dementia first hand really shows just how cruel the disease is. It takes parts of a person that make them who they are, and can even make someone affected forget who their own children are.
The fact that there are currently 850,000 people in the UK alone who are struggling with these kind of memory loss issues is heart-breaking, which is why I believe finding a cure for this horrific disease is vital.
People like Ted don’t deserve to have their memories taken away.