A young mother, 34, diagnosed with dementia, thought she had postpartum depression

Teessider’s “dear” friends, who were diagnosed with dementia at just 34, completed an eight-mile walk for charity.

Holly Braithwaite has been diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and is thought to be one of the youngest people in the UK with the condition. The young mom, who was diagnosed just last year, first started showing symptoms in 2019, and initially thought her condition was postpartum depression after giving birth to her daughter Alba or a thyroid problem with which she was diagnosed.

Holly’s two school friends Sophie Poulton, 33, and Kayleigh Spooner, 34, organized the eight-mile walk to celebrate their dear friend, and were joined by more than 80 people on the trek from Glaisdale to Goathland. The group raised a whopping £ 7,000 for Rare Dementia Support, a service funded by The National Brain Appeal, which became a lifeline for Holly, her husband Alex, and her mother Chris.

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Pal Sophie said: “The walk was a huge success, lots of people joined us for a day full of fun and laughter! We sang, we danced, we laughed and we cried! We talked about Holly and all the great times we had together.

“We couldn’t be happier with how well the day went. We’re still waiting for a final total of money raised in the day because local schools etc still want to donate, however the donation-only page now exceeds £ 7,000 including. that’s amazing! “

Holly with husband Alex before she fell ill
Holly with husband Alex before she fell ill

Sophie, who is also now helping Alex and Chris take care of Holly, added: “It took some time for Holly to get a proper diagnosis. After several different tests and scans it was confirmed that it was Frontotemporal Dementia. We were so shocked to hear that it was a form of dementia.

“Holly is so sharp, even now, she’ll know dates, birthdays, what we did on nights out when we were younger. That’s the surprising thing about FTD and some of these rarer forms of dementia. It’s not about memory loss and it can happen to younger people. ”

Early dementia can affect behavior, personality, and language, with relatively few memory problems in the early stages. It is part of a group of disorders that occur when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost. This causes the lobes to shrink.

Like other rare forms of dementia, it can strike young people, affecting people in their thirties, forties and fifties. Affected people often do not know that their behavior is not normal. This creates huge challenges for those living with the condition, and for their families, caregivers and employers. There is currently no cure for any form of dementia.

Friends and family of Holly Braithwaite participating in Holly's Walk
Friends and family of Holly Braithwaite participating in Holly’s Walk

Rare Dementia Support provides advice and a safe space to meet other people who are experiencing similar problems, guiding and informing them and the people who care for them. Money raised from the walk will provide guidance and education both in person and through their virtual center and will also be a space for research, artistic and cultural activities.

Sophie continued: “The Rare Dementia Support team was a gift to those who care about Holly, offering her expertise and support to the family and so we knew we wanted to give something back. When Kayleigh and I went to Alex with our idea of a fundraiser, he suggested we do this for The National Brain Appeal, which funds the service.

“We’ve reached out to a lot of people who know and love Holly, to join us to celebrate her and help raise money for the charity. We’ve also gotten support from people who don’t know Holly but just want to show that they care. We really wanted make the day good, full of fun and laughter, just as Holly would like it!

“Holly’s condition is progressing faster than any of us have anticipated. As family and friends we do our best to support her and create a safe, loving and caring environment for her during this frightening, confusing time.

“We are devastated and moved to see what happens to our dear friend. We know there is no cure and we just want to be there for her and do all we can for her, Alex, Alba, Chris and the whole family.”

If you’d like to donate, please visit Holly’s JustGiving page.


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