Man suffering from dementia ‘banned from supermarkets’

Laurie and Jill Butcher SUS-160825-170939001
Laurie and Jill Butcher SUS-160825-170939001

A man suffering from a rare form of dementia has been banned from a string of supermarkets, his local leisure centre and library.

Laurie Butcher, of Lucastes Avenue, Haywards Heath, has frontotemporal dementia which has caused a fundamental personality change.

And this week his wife Jill spoke of the agony of living with the disease. She says it has changed Laurie from a ‘jokey pleasant chap’ to one who is ‘extremely unpleasant.’

“He’s not the man I married,” said Jill, 69. “He’s not like anyone I would choose to marry.”

But she is at pains to point out that it is the illness causing the problems, not Laurie himself. The disease has affected Laurie’s communication, social skills and language.

Now Jill wants to raise awareness of the disease - which often strikes younger people - in a bid to help others. “One of the big problems is lack of understanding by the public, and even by members of the medical profession.”

And she added: “Although he is quite harmless, Laurie is banned from entering various places in Haywards Heath because of his bizarre behaviour.

“For example he was sent home from Sainsbury’s in a police car a couple of weeks ago. Sainsbury’s could not tell me what he did because that would have been a breach of the Data Protection Act. And I’m his wife and carer.”

Laurie, 75, who used to work in advertising, first became ill around 11 years ago. “I think quickly after that we began to find we were losing friends. Our social life began to disintergrate.

“He cracks jokes and considers he is being funny. He’s not,” said Jill. “His behaviour is very bizarre.” She said he sometimes imitated accents and spoke aloud whatever came into his head.

“He’s not dangerous, but he will push children out of the way and he swears a lot. None of this is his fault. It’s the disease.

“I have to admit he is exremely unpleasant. I have to admit that. I don’t blame people for the way they react.”

Jill, who now runs a carers’ support group, said the disease - which can be difficult to diagnose - was progressive and terminal. “The brain is fundamentally shrinking.”

Cutting edge research into the disease is currently being carried out at University College London.

An FTD (frontotemporal dementia) Awareness Week is being held from September 24 - October 1.