Observer columnist Katharine Whitehorn’s son on the difficulties of dealing with decline

So it’s out. My mother, Katharine Whitehorn, has Alzheimer’s disease. She who has lived entirely by her wits has now lost them. Sounds cruel? Try watching a dignified and private person lose everything they value, suffer every humiliation you can imagine, if you want to know what cruelty means.

I can’t remember exactly when Kath told us what was up. We were walking on Hampstead Heath. She had been undergoing various investigations to explain, aside from her deteriorating memory, some troubling episodes of confusion, even hallucination. Now the result was in. I wasn’t hugely surprised, but still the word carried the ring of finality.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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