Coronation Street tackles dementia and carer guilt

Published 21 October 2011

On Friday 21 October Coronation Street’s Eileen Grimshaw - who is currently dating fireman Paul - finds out that his wife has Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's Society hopes the storyline will get people talking more about dementia and the issues affecting families living with the condition.

Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer's Society Chief Executive, said:

'It is good to see Coronation Street featuring a dementia storyline and one that tackles such a rarely spoken about subject. If a carer develops feelings for someone else they may feel very guilty. Having such a high profile soap covering the issue will hopefully enable more people to feel comfortable talking about it. We know from talking to people that everyone experiences dementia differently and relationships they have are very different too.'

In the coming months the storyline will explore Paul's guilt as he embarks on a relationship with Eileen and how in turn Eileen copes with being the 'other woman' in a very complex and unusual situation.;

Tony Hirst who plays Paul said:

'Since taking on this part, I have learnt so much more about dementia and how it affects not just the person with the condition but has an impact on the whole family. I am really enjoying the opportunity to help raise awareness about this devastating condition.'

There are currently 750,000 people with dementia in the UK. Of this, there are 16,000 people with dementia under the age of 65 yet it is estimated that the number is much higher.

Jeremy said:

'The fact that Tony's wife is in her 40s will hopefully help spread the message much further that dementia can affect younger people too. Many younger people with the condition fail to get an early diagnosis as they put off seeking help. We would encourage anyone who's worried about their memory to visit their GP.'

In 2006, Coronation Street's long standing character Mike Baldwin died with Alzheimer's disease. The storyline provided an opportunity to raise awareness about dementia at a time when it was not high on the political agenda.

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