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Society must support all affected by dementia

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John Hume with his wife Pat, who has spoken of his struggle with dementia

John Hume with his wife Pat, who has spoken of his struggle with dementia

John Hume with his wife Pat, who has spoken of his struggle with dementia

Confirmation that former Nobel Prize winner John Hume is suffering from a form of dementia will strike a sad and knowing chord with many sufferers and their families.

Yesterday Pat Hume, Mr Hume's devoted wife, outlined the difficulties in caring for a loved one with an illness that affects 50,000 people in Ireland and 48 million people worldwide. Mrs Hume revealed how her husband, one of the greatest peacemakers of his generation, suffers severe memory problems, but has the support of his native Derry, a 'dementia-friendly city'.

It is a tragedy for the Hume family and for Ireland that dementia has claimed such a towering intellect.

Mrs Hume's frank testimony about her husband's illness underscores the significance of the recent decision by Atlantic Philanthropies to donate €138m to a Trinity College Dublin team to help stop the projected tripling of dementia by 2050.

An estimated 30pc of dementia cases are preventable and it is vital that a cure, if possible, can be found. Until then, we should follow Derry's example and make Ireland a dementia-friendly country for all affected by this debilitating illness.

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