East End entertainer wants his community to remember those with dementia

John Wright, 71, has lived with dementia for 18 years.

John Wright, 71, has lived with dementia for 18 years. - Credit: Archant

A cabaret singer who had spent his whole life entertaining the East End stepped up to the microphone one night to find he couldn’t remember the words to any of his songs.

John Wright was 53-years-old at the time and his sudden inability to do something that came as naturally to him as breathing terrified him.

John, who is now 71, retired, and living in Shadwell identifies this as the moment he knew something was wrong.

Shortly afterwards, he was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia, a condition which leads to the gradual decline of brain functionality.

John, who keeps active by going on his computer, said: “I don’t go out as much as I used to. Friends have moved away and now there’s no one to socialise with.

“I have problems with my memory, so it’s not always easy getting out and about.

“I had horrible situation in my local bank a few months ago, and now I don’t want to go back in on my own.

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“My worst nightmare would be forgetting to pay for something in a shop; I don’t think I’d ever go shopping again.”

John, who lives on his own, has had dementia for 18 years now and he told his story to highlight a new campaign by Alzheimer’s Society to get people to play their part to ensure people with dementia are not forgotten by their community.

The charity also published their second annual report on Wednesday entitled “Dementia 2013: The hidden voice of loneliness” which revealed that more than half of people living in London - 54 per cent - feel people with the condition have a bad quality of life.

Kate Moore, East Region Operations Director at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We need to put a stop to this epidemic of loneliness, not only to improve quality of life but also to save thousands from reaching crisis point and being admitted to hospital unnecessarily or care homes early.

“It’s time for all of us to play a part in helping people with dementia live well with the condition.”

Find out more about what you can do to help people with Alzheimers by visiting www.alzheimers.org.uk or call 0845 306 0898.

Alzheimer’s Society also has a National Dementia Helpline to provide support and guidance on the issue on 0300 222 1122.