Alastair Stewart has spoken about the ‘terror’ of his dementia diagnosis (Picture: Danny Martindale/WireImage)
Two months ago, the veteran broadcaster, 71, publicly revealed he’d been diagnosed with dementia.
He has been battling early onset vascular dementia, which was picked up after he’d started feeling ‘a bit discombobulated’.
Before his diagnosis, Alastair was struggling with tasks like tying his shoelaces and remembering the call times for his programme and was also making uncharacteristic spelling mistakes and errors.
He’s now offered an update on how he’s been going since then.
He spoke about his diagnosis for the first time publicly two months ago (Picture: Rob Evans/ITV via Getty Images)
Reflecting on the moment where he first found out about the diagnosis, Alastair said the news left him gobsmacked.
‘My immediate reaction was terror at those two words, strokes and dementia, although I remained super-calm (while saying a rather strong expletive in my head.),’ he said.
The ex-ITV News host has children Alex, 41, Clemmie, 38, Freddie, 30 and Oscar, 25 with wife Sally Ann Jung, 67.
‘Both Sal and I felt like we were in a scene from Emergency Ward 10 or Casualty,’ he added, in a piece written for Saga magazine.
‘As someone who loves language and has made my career from it, there is no getting away from the fact that when a professional looks you in the eye and says “you’ve got dementia”, it’s a shocker, no matter how much you are prepared for it.’
While he said his symptoms are ‘much the same’ as they where when he was diagnosed in June, he’s been strolling with how it has ‘reduced’ his wife to the role of carer.
The veteran broadcaster thanked his wife for her support (Picture: Sally Alan Davidson/ REX/ Shutterstock)
‘The one who double-checks my shoes, my buttons, my diary,’ he continued.
‘It is demeaning and soul-destroying, and she comes to it from a position of enormous calibre and talent.’
Recalling his ‘punishing’ schedule whilst working full-time, Alastair said doing live TV work was ‘taxing’ on his brain.
He said the first signs something were wrong were picked up by his wife.
‘She asked me to reset our kitchen clock and I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t conceptualise what the hands signified, and I could no longer glance up and say it was ten past 11,’ he explained.
He worked for ITV for nearly 40 years before moving to GB News a few years ago (Picture: Alan Olley/TV Times via Getty Images)
Despite the diagnosis, Alastair has said he won’t let it define him.
Instead, he wanted to ‘continue to be visible’ and make it clear to people dementia was ‘not a cliff-edge’.
‘My short-term memory isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be, which is a drag but it is not catastrophic,’ he said.
He said this was not ‘the end of the road’ and he still had ‘a lot to give’.
What is vascular dementia?
Vascular dementia is a common type of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. It’s estimated to affect around 180,000 people in the UK.
Dementia is the name for problems with mental abilities caused by gradual changes and damage in the brain. It’s rare in people under 65.
Vascular dementia tends to get worse over time, although it’s sometimes possible to slow it down.
Vascular dementia can start suddenly or begin slowly over time, with symptoms including slowness of thought, difficulty with planning and understanding, problems with concentration and changes to mood, personality or behaviour.
See a GP if you think you have early symptoms of dementia, especially if you’re over 65 years of age.
‘People sometimes ask if I feel frightened about what the future holds. I don’t, although maybe I should. I’m certainly apprehensive and concerned about the prospect of deterioration,’ he admitted.
‘But I’m incredibly confident in my family: whatever nature and medicine throws at me; we will tackle it together. I feel so incredibly lucky.’
Alastair left ITV in 2020, where he had presented a range of news and current affairs programmes including the evening news, lunchtime news and News At Ten.
He hosted his final episode of Alastair Stewart And Friends, a discussion programme on GB News, in March.
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‘My immediate reaction was terror.’