‘I was taking it out on him’: BBC Breakfast presenter Nina Warhurst says she feels guilty for being angry with her father’s forgetfulness as he battles dementia
- If you’ve been affected by anything in this article, please call the Dementia UK helpline on 0800 888 6678
BBC presenter Nina Warhurst says she feels guilty for losing patience with her father’s forgetfulness as he struggles with the degenerative symptoms of dementia.
The political editor has filmed a short feature for the BBC in which she shines a light on the plight of dementia sufferers and the wider impact it has on family members left to care for their loved ones.
Warhurst, 42, and her sisters Amy and Mel are currently co-caring for elderly father Chris, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2022 – but the presenter admitted she’s still coming to terms with the toll it has already taken on his cognitive ability.
‘We have been fortunate that my dad has never gotten angry,’ she told Monday’s edition of BBC Breakfast. ‘I know that can happen with different forms of dementia, but he didn’t understand it was happening.
‘When we had conversations about changing the set-up, maybe giving some respite care he thought nothing was wrong.
Opening up: BBC presenter Nina Warhurst says she feels guilty for losing patience with her father’s forgetfulness as he struggles with the degenerative symptoms of dementia
Family: Warhurst and her sisters Amy and Mel are currently co-caring for elderly father Chris, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2022
‘Having to tell little fibs all the time just broke your heart but it was in his best interest. There were times when “if I don’t fib to him to get us over this hump, we are not going to get there”.
‘And he would phone me 10 times a day, saying ‘I need you to come round’ and then I’d get there and he would say “What are you doing here?”‘
She added: ‘At that point, it is hard not to be cross and that was the surprising thing, I felt really guilty because I was getting angry with him.
‘I was taking it out on him and I had two tiny kids at home that I wasn’t seeing as much and I wasn’t focused at work, there are these ripples that then go through your family as well.’
Dementia, a degenerative condition with no known cure, commonly affects the brain’s ability to think, remember, and function normally, with suffers typically losing their memories over time.
Moving: The political editor has filmed a short feature for the BBC in which she shines a light on the plight of dementia sufferers
Emotional: Warhurst was seen breaking down as she discussed her father’s degenerative condition
Sad: Taking to Instagram last year, Warhurst admitted she was devastated after her father failed to recognise her
Taking to Instagram last year, Warhurst admitted she was devastated after her father failed to recognise her.
Sharing a photo of herself and Chris, she wrote: ‘My Dad. I missed him so much this week. Dementia means he’s here, but not here. Today was the first time he couldn’t quite place me.
‘Then he got out a new glasses case. He was clearly chuffed with it but knew it was funny to be chuffed with a new glasses case.
‘In some ways, he taught me to laugh. Properly from the tummy. And to laugh at myself.’
She added: We’re all holding on to those deep-rooted connections for as long as we can. Dementia isn’t the end. It’s the start of a new chapter.
‘So much respect for his key worker today who told me that it’s all about cherishing those connections, instead of missing the ones we’ve lost. The staff are superstars and it means the world.’
If you’ve been affected by anything in this article, please call the Dementia UK helpline on 0800 888 6678.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour.
There are many types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of different types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 per cent of those diagnosed.
In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.
Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted, the more effective treatments can be.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society
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