In a piercingly honest portrayal of how Alzheimer’s disease has impacted their mother Glenys, Lord Neil Kinnock’s daughters recounted the heartbreaking burden of “losing a tiny part of the person you love every day.”
In a letter for The Sunday Times, Rachel, 51, and Stephen Kinnock, 52, spoke of the “slow anguish” of seeing their mother’s condition deteriorate ever since she learned about it five years ago.
The 78-year-old served as a member of the European Parliament for Wales from 1994 to 2009. He was Gordon Brown’s Minister of State for Europe for a short while before taking on the roles of Minister of State for Africa and the United Nations.
But after a successful political career and as the devoted wife of Neil Kinnock, who led the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992, Baroness Kinnock was left “mortified” when her memory slowly started to go.
Her daughters tell how the enthusiastic baker, who had taken “special satisfaction” in being able to prepare a birthday cake for her grandkids, was left unable to do so.
They also notice that while Neil, her devoted husband of 55 years, is 80 years old, he is still the one who “suffers” by seeing Gleny’s deterioration.
They claim that the cheeky, naughty, and fun side of their beloved mother still dominates much of her demeanour.
They also realise how the lady they once knew has been taken from them by Alzheimer’s.
The most difficult thing is how much they miss her, they write, despite being witnesses to the daily agony of the sickness.
She is in the same room as us, but we are unable to communicate with her.
She has left, yet she is still present.
According to The Independent, Lord Kinnock said in a May interview with Talk TV that the toughest aspect of being married to a dementia patient is “the knowing that the change is going to continue and they are stopping, very gradually, to be the person that they have been.”
He said, “I have a long way to go to catch her up since she has supported me for 50 years and I have only been supporting her for five.
However, as many who live with the reality of dementia can attest, it doesn’t work that way.
He said that although the circumstance is difficult, he manages it “out of love” and said that he and his wife were lucky to have family support and the financial means to pay caretakers for up to five hours each day.
The condition “may be rather severe” for those without access to these services.
The senator said that during a family vacation to Kefalonia in 2016, his wife was first diagnosed.
She was speaking awkwardly and displaying some perplexity, which I observed to a greater extent than I had previously. This may be attributed to the unfamiliar surroundings we are in, among other things.
But when her son-in-law Stuart commented on her perplexity, they made the decision to see a doctor.
She received an official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in February 2017.
More than 850,000 individuals in the UK already have dementia, and that figure is projected to more than double by 2025, according to NHS England.