Former TV newsreader John Suchet revealed the torment caused by his wife’s dementia today, saying: “It’s as if she has died.”
The broadcaster said the disease had “taken” Bonnie, his wife of 24 years, since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago.
“The past we shared is a closed book to her,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. “The Bonnie I loved has gone. It’s as if she has died. Dementia has taken her.”
Suchet, 64, said his wife now needed to be dressed and no longer knew which families their five grandchildren belonged to. It has also been many months since she had gone out.
These had prompted suicidal thoughts, he said, adding that until now he had kept her condition a secret from all but family and close friends.
The former ITN stalwart, who currently presents quiz show Going For Gold on Five, said: “There are times I want to bury my head in my hands. When I persuade myself she would be better off without me because I’m crap at handling this. You have suicidal moments.”
Suchet said the first sign his wife, 67, was suffering from a serious illness came four or five years ago while they were waiting for a flight to France. She went off to the nearby ladies toilet, but was unable to find her way back to her husband. On a later trip to the United States, she passed out in a restaurant.
Then three years ago she was referred to a neurologist in London, who diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease.
“It was a relief because I knew by then that it was something serious,” he said. “I said: ‘Don’t worry. Everything’s fine.’ And she believed me. Still does.”