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Tuesday 6th December 2016
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Jazz legend has dementia

5th March 2007

George Melly’s wife has announced that the 81-year-old jazz legend has vascular dementia.

georgemelly1

Diana Melly says she was only able to accept her husband’s condition when he started shouting at strangers and stopped recognising her. He was diagnosed two years ago. Since then George has developed the obsessive behaviour typical of those with the condition. The singer also has a small lung tumour, probably caused by his 60-a-day smoking habit, which has spread. However, he has refused surgery and chemotherapy and continues to smoke.

Over 750,000 people in the UK have dementia, a figure which is set to rise with our ageing population. Half of those who suffer with dementia have Alzheimer’s which is caused by an interruption of messages to the brain. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain. Smoking is a risk factor for vascular dementia, as is drinking heavily and generally living an unhealthy lifestyle. Other contributory factors include high blood pressure, high levels of "bad" cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems and anything else that interferes with blood flow around the body. Vascular dementia is incurable and no treatments are currently available.

Diana Melly says the hardest thing has been the change in her husband’s personality. "George has always been incredibly sweet-natured [but] all of a sudden he was becoming very impatient, shouting at people in the street, and being grumpy and nasty. It wasn't like him,? she says.

 

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