'More research needed into dementia' say family of South Yorkshire man who died aged just 40

Gareth Wilmot.
Gareth Wilmot.

The mum of a South Yorkshire man who became one of the youngest people to die from dementia aged just 40 is calling for more to be done to tackle the deadly condition.

Gareth Wilmot lost his five-year battle with frontotemporal dementia last Monday despite the illness usually affecting patients between the ages of 45 and 65.

Gareth Wilmot on holiday.

Gareth Wilmot on holiday.

The Barnsley man, a former teacher at Gooseacre Primary School in Thurnscoe, began to show signs of the degenerative illness at 35-years-old but was misdiagnosed with depression. His heartbroken parents, Lesley, aged 66, and Graham, aged 65, are now calling for more funding and research into dementia in young people - so other families don't have to suffer as much as they have.

As part of their campaign to put the condition in the spotlight, they have decided to donate Gareth's brain and spinal cord in the hope that they can help with future research into the disease.

Lesley said: "Frontotemporal dementia is very rare and we had never heard of it. When experts talk about dementia generally in young people they mean people aged primarily in their mid to late 50s.

"But we need to put the spotlight on people who get the condition in their 30s and 40s. The current lifespan is about five years, but if there is more funding from the Government and more research into it then it might be possible to get new treatments and extend the life expectancy and quality of life for the patient."

Frontotemporal dementia occurs when nerve cells in the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain die.

Lesley added: "The effect on the family was devastating. He lost all of his weight and was skin and bones."

Graham added that as the illness progressed, his "showman" of a son started to lose his speech before refusing food and drink. He said: "It is horrible to see an old person like that, never mind your own son."

Gareth lived happily with his partner prior to his diagnosis but moved back into the family home when his condition started to deteriorate. He was moved to Havenfield care home for the final stages of his life.

The funeral took place at Goldthorpe Parish Church last Thursday, followed by cremation at Ardsley Crematorium.