Gareth Wilmot, a teacher from Barnsley passed away on Monday following a five-year battle with frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of the degenerative disease that tends to affect people aged 45 to 65 – making him one of the youngest sufferers in the country.
Frontotemporal dementia occurs when nerve cells in the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain die.
Gareth who taught children with behavioural problems, was living with his partner but moved back into his parents’ home and then a care home as his condition began to deteriorate.
“My big lad. Such a great loss not only to his family but to all his friends and colleagues,” wrote his father Graham Wilmot, 65, on Facebook.
His mother Lesley 66, said the family had a “massive hole to fill” after the death of the arts enthusiast who had studied at Manchester University’s Arden School of Theatre, reported
Doctors originally thought Mr Wilmot was suffering from depression, which is more common in people in their 30s, however, as the disease progressed, he became unable to speak and lost weight as he refused food and drink.
Graham Wilmot, a retired mechanical fitter, called the effect on the family of the diagnosis “devastating”. Speaking on a news program during a 2015 report into his son’s condition: “He’s a shadow of his former self”.
“It is horrible to see an old person like that, never mind your own son. The diagnosis is so final, a fuse starts burning. You don’t know how long that fire will burn. It destroys you,” he said.
There are currently around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia, which is the leading cause of death in England and Wales, and generally affects the elderly, however approximately 5% of patients are diagnosed before the age of 65 according to Young Dementia UK
Dementia usually affects the elderly, but around five per cent of patients are diagnosed before the age of 65, according to Young Dementia UK.