Just like we do, celebrities also have to deal with caring for elderly parents – looking after them when their health begins to fail or if they develop conditions such as dementia.
David Baddiel is one of those celebrities who has been particularly outspoken when it comes to talking about what he calls “the pain and humour of Dad’s dementia” and along with his two brothers has recently participated in a Channel 4 documentary about their father’s condition.
Baddiel’s father Colin is now 82 and is one of the 850,000 people in the UK with dementia, although is one of the five percent who suffer from the rarer strain known as Picks disease. As this is one of the less than five percent of suffers who have Pick’s disease. Also known as frontotemporal dementia this affects both the frontal and temporal anterior lobes of the brain, resulting in patterns which involve changes in behaviour and changes in language.
This can lead to symptoms such as incessant swearing, and extreme rudeness.
After initial reservations about the programme, Baddiel was keen to do it providing it presented his father and his condition in an honest yet positive light, something which the show candidly achieves, capturing what David calls “the dark rainbow” with great tenderness, evident love and unvarnished humour.
Interviewed in the Radio Times, he comments,
“There is no situation where it is straightforwardly OK to put someone on camera who is not totally informed about it due to dementia, as is the case here. I’m perfectly happy if people want to say ‘That is not OK’, because maybe it isn’t. But the alternative is that nobody ever talks about this, and we must. It’s an epidemic – the largest killer of older people, bigger than cancer. We must bring that into the light.”
The documentary also discusses his father before the family became aware of his condition, and David admits there is a certain irony in the fact that he always behaved this way “unbelievably rude, sweary, antisocial, impatient and moody”, which is what made the symptoms so difficult to spot.
It also depicts how the family deal with care, as well as the difficulties faced in looking after a parent with dementia, but ultimately what made The Trouble with Dad so watchable, was the dark sense of humour which pervaded throughout, and was ultimately what kept them going.
The Trouble with Dad Aired on Channel 4 on Monday 20th Feb 2017. Read the full interview with David Baddiel in the Radio Times