When June Rance, now 72, was diagnosed at the age of 41 she was one of the youngest dementia patient her doctors had ever seen.
Over the past 30 years, her main carer has been her devoted husband of 54 years, Len, 71.
But now the couple, of Tingley, have been given the devastating news that he too has dementia.
The grandfather-of-five said: “I just couldn’t believe it. I feel down at times. I become myself again but it’s a worry. Apparently mine could be worse than June’s. I don’t want to become violent.”
“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” he added.
June and Len are among the 5,800 people in Leeds with a dementia diagnosis – with 10,000 expected to be diagnosed by 2025.
Health experts have estimated that one in four of us will develop dementia in our lifetime.
Len said he’d feared the worst when he started noticing signs. He said: “I kept on forgetting things. I thought it was just my age but with June being like she is, I thought is it dementia?”
Tests showed he had vascular dementia – resulting from a series of small strokes which have destroyed parts of his brain. June has been on medication since her diagnosis but says she feels she has deteriorated recently.
She said: “I can be having a conversation with someone then realise there’s something wrong – I’ve a lot of trouble getting words out and saying what I mean.
“Recently I’ve been struggling with all sorts – not knowing where I’m going or what I’m doing. When I’m writing things down, it’s sometimes a lot of rubbish. I’ve left taps on.
“I try to talk to people as much as I can but I’m finding I can’t do that now. I daren’t go out on my own now. It’s really frightening because you don’t know what to do [when you get lost].”
Len and June Rance said they have been supported by the various “life-saver” social events around Leeds, such as Peter’s Tea Cosy Cafe in Rothwell and Leeds City Council’s Peer Support Service.