A ski instructor has become one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with dementia, having been struck by the disease at just 31 years old.
Becky Barletta, from Suffolk, was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia last year, which mainly affects the front and sides of the brain and causes problems with behaviour and language.
Becky, now 32, requires round-the-clock care and is currently living in her parents home so they can provide extra support.
The newlywed began experiencing symptoms ahead of her wedding to husband Luca, but friends and family initially mistook her change in mood for pre-wedding stress. They’re now crowdfunding for donations to advance dementia research.
Becky’s sister, Sophie Gilbert, explained that Becky was diagnosed following a series of brain scans and written tests after family begged her to get tested.
Sadly, the disease runs in the family and the sisters’ cousin Philipa died from it in her forties while their uncle James died from the disease in his fifties.
“They say the younger the patient the more rapid it can be and it has been very rapid. There is not much of our old Becky left. She repeats the same stories to us and says inappropriate things,” Sophie told Cambridge News.
“I find it hard when we go out, she is off down the street asking people if they can make a funny noise and that sort of thing.
“It is not because I am embarrassed, but because I find it so sad to watch. Some people are amazing and do the noises and chat with her but then there are some who [do] not understand, because she looks well from the outside, and can be quite short with her.”
Sophie added that Becky has always wanted to become a mum, but she was diagnosed before she and Luca began trying for children.
Sophie is herself a mum-of-two and is now concerned about the prospect of her children being diagnosed with the disease.
The family has now organised a charity walk for the Alzheimer’s Society to raise money for dementia research.
“There is currently no cure or treatment for any dementia or even treatment to stop or slow its progression,” their JustGiving page says.
“We need to change this as soon as possible and can only do this through research and raising money to support this research.
“Whilst unfortunately this will not help Becky, we know she would want us to try and halt this vile disease in its tracks for the benefit of the future generations in our family and other families who have been affected by dementia.”
The JustGiving page has so far raised more than £4,800. You can donate here.