“It became very difficult for me”: Tony Christie on the first signs of dementia

On Wednesday, January 25, Tony Christie, whose real name is Anthony Fitzgerald, revealed the first signs of dementia in an interview with BBC Breakfast. “For 50 years, I’ve always been a crossword puzzle fanatic and all of a sudden, and all of a sudden it was really hard for me to do it,” he said. “So I said to my wife…” I used to do two or three crosswords a day” and suddenly I said: “What happened to me? I do not know what’s going on”.

“So she said, ‘Well, let’s go and check.’ And they said, “Your dementia is coming.”

Speaking about why he chose to “talk about it,” Tony Christie said, “A lot of people I’ve met who have it are worried about it.

“And I don’t worry about it. I went to specialists, they gave me pills, and they gradually worked.

“And I have a feeling that in a few years there will be pills that will cure him. So I just keep working.”

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The Alzheimer’s Society has stated that dementia medications can help with some of the symptoms of dementia.

Symptoms of dementia can include memory loss, behavioral changes, poor communication, aggressiveness, and sleep disturbance.

The National Health Service expanded this list by adding that dementia is a general term for brain damage caused by various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“Different types of dementia can affect people differently and everyone will experience symptoms differently,” the health authority adds.

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“However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia is made.”

Common early symptoms of dementia:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty performing normal daily tasks
  • Trying to follow the conversation
  • Trying to find the right word
  • Confused in time and place
  • Mood changes.

“However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia is made,” notes the National Health Service.

Medications to treat dementia

The main drugs for the treatment of dementia include acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine.

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The first, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, thereby helping nerve cells communicate with each other.

Examples of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors include:

  • Donepezil (Aricept)
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon)
  • Galantamine (Reminil).

Memantine (Namenda) works by blocking excess of the chemical glutamate in the brain.

Tony Christie is positive about his diagnosis and treatment, adding that “he’s starting a big, big tour this year.”

He said: “It will be very busy, but I am looking forward to it. And music, in fact, as I understand it, is part of the cure for dementia, so every time I go on stage and work, it helps me.”

Sharing his advice with other dementia patients, Tony Christie said: “Ignore it. Go on and do what you’re doing… don’t panic about it.”

Dementia is a progressive condition, but there are many different treatment options besides medication.

By working with their healthcare team, people can decide what type of treatment is best for them.

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