People die and get dementia!

An elderly woman has died at 87 and she had dementia! Why aren’t we told this kind of thing can happen?

At the age of 87 and suffering from dementia, the world says goodbye to Margaret Thatcher. Reaction to her death have been mixed. At the one end we have the sadness and grief of those close to her and at the other people dancing in the street.

But most of all we have a celebration of her life. With some exceptions this mornings papers are full of plaudits and a State funeral – in all but name – is planned. For those not in the know a state funeral is the most extraordinary ‘knees up!’

Channel 4 filled our screens, for two hours last night, with Maggie at her most formidable. Veteran news reporter John Snow, that Pinko as her husband Denis Thatcher called him, cheerfully admitted to being repeatedly ‘hand-bagged’ over the years whenever he interviewed her. Watching, he often sounded life some penniless nephew asking his maiden aunt for a loan and being lectured on the values of good housekeeping for it.

Not only did we see her driving tanks and saying “No! No! No!” to Europe we were reminded what a sex kitten she was. ‘Marilyn Munro’s mouth with the eyes of Caligula’ as the late French President Francois Mitterrand, once described her. Margaret Thatcher the grocers daughter, greatest peace time Prime Minister of the 20th Century. The woman who saved Britain. Or a witch who should have been burned at the stake, depending on your point of view.

Whether you saw her as the reincarnation of Winston Churchill or Cruella De Ville she was still a woman. One who suffered the double whammy of dementia and death. Worth remembering that she is the second Prime Minister – Harold Wilson being the first, he was struck down with dementia while still in office – to suffer from the disease in the last 40 years. One in three of us we are told who reach the age of 65 will die with dementia.

Seeing her at her most sparkling – or ‘barking mad’ (in the purely pejorative sense) highlights what the dreadful effects of dementia can be and how we need to do far more to combat this awful diseases.

As for her death, she was as I say at the outset 87. Average female life expectancy now, if you reach 65, being 89. None of us can live for ever not even the Iron Lady.

So while her family and friends will feel some sadness at her going. We shall over the coming days be subject to a Maggie fest in all the media. There will be a celebration of her life something we should look to do for all our loved ones when they die.

I never was a fan, but if her death can get us talking a little more about our own mortality, the importance of celebrating a life when it ends and, the dementia time bomb we all face, then something good for all of us will have come out of the life and times of Margaret Hilda Thatcher RIP.

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