Family share dementia story as part of Take Care Together campaign

Michael Watts, who has dementia, with wife Betty May ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (150992-1)
Michael Watts, who has dementia, with wife Betty May ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (150992-1)
  • Michael Watts was diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Family encourages more people to be open about the disease
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ASK him about a coach route he used to drive and Michael Watts will most likely be able to tell you.

But if you ask the 74-year-old what he had for breakfast that morning, the answer is more of a challenge.

Memory loss has become a way of life for retired coach driver Michael, and his wife Betty May, 75, of Fareham Road, Gosport.

Michael, who was a coach driver with Southdown since 1962, was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year.

Signs that things weren’t right had surfaced about 18 months before then.

Betty May, a dressmaker, said: ‘The change in Michael happened quite quickly so there’s a lot to adapt to.

‘We can’t really watch 
television because he thinks it’s real and it gets scary for him.

‘He also suffers from hallucinations and he does need 24/7 care.

‘He often likes it when we sit together and hold hands.

‘We go to a memory cafe in Lee-on-the-Solent, which we all enjoy.’

Last month the couple went to a 100-year celebration of Southdown buses, which 
was held in Southsea Common.

They were joined by their daughter Debbie Manning, 52, a support worker.

She said: ‘Dad used to drive National Express coaches and worked with Southdown, so to go there was great for him.

‘He can remember quite a bit about the coaches he drove and can tell you about different routes and buses.

‘But if you ask him what he had for breakfast today then he can’t remember.

‘Humour is the biggest thing that gets us through things.

‘We want Dad to have the best quality of life as possible and want him to stay at home for as long as possible.

‘We are sharing our story as part of The News’ Take Care Together campaign to encourage others to talk about their experience and raise awareness of this life-changing disease.’

Michael has dementia with Lewy bodies, which involves tiny abnormal structures developing inside brain cells.

They disrupt the brain’s chemistry and lead to the death of brain cells.

It’s also closely related to Parkinson’s disease and often has some of the same symptoms.