THE son of a man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has spoken about the devastating impact the condition has had on his family.

Steve Hewson from Newhaven is telling his story as part of dementia awareness week.

His father Richard, 78, was diagnosed in 2013 and now lives at Clifden House Dementia Care Centre in Seaford.

Steve, 50, a paramedic, said: “We noticed a change four years ago.

“It was subtle things like when he received birthday cards he’d place them upside down on the mantelpiece.

“He’d also pretend to have read them when he hadn’t and he’d attempt to read an upside down newspaper.

“For the first two years of his diagnosis Richard and his wife Maureen were able to carry on life pretty much as normal but then the situation started to deteriorate.

“I got a phone call one night from Mum, asking me to come round to try and stop Dad from leaving the house.

“Dad had got up in the middle of the night and was trying to go outside in the cold and rain in his boxer shorts – and this wasn’t the first time.

“Mum had been trying to deal with all this on her own, playing down how bad the situation had become.

“We discovered Mum hadn’t really slept for two weeks and had been sitting up with Dad to make sure he didn’t leave the house.

“Mum does feel guilty about Dad being in a home, despite the fact that my siblings and I have tried to tell her not to feel this way.

“Mum understands though that she can’t deal with Dad at home safely any more.

“The risk of him hurting himself is too high. She takes comfort in knowing that he’s now safe and professionally cared for.”

Steve, who visits his father once a week, says he doesn’t always recognise his family.

He said: “He was a really good dad and he was also a very intelligent man.

“It is sad that he’s ended up at the mercy of this cruel disease.”

“However I’ve learnt that although it’s difficult, you’ve got to be really positive. and remember the good times.

“What’s happening now isn’t him; it’s the disease.”