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Sunday 1 October 2023 Dublin: 13°C
EMPICS Sports Photo Agency
# STrength
John Hume's wife Pat gave a heartbreaking interview about his dementia
“People love John. He can go out for a walk. Every taxi in the place will stop for him.”

“IF HE WAS out for a meal, he’d be back for half an hour and I would say ‘it was lovely food we had tonight’ and he would say ‘what food?’ So it really is very sad.”

Pat Hume spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan this morning about her husband’s ongoing struggle with dementia.

The comments were part of a wide-ranging interview about her 55-year marriage to John Hume, about which Pat has written in a new book ‘John Hume – Irish Peacemaker’.

Asked if John would attend the book launch, Pat said, “No… For a man who travelled the world non-stop, he doesn’t like being away from home now. He loves Derry.

He doesn’t like going to Dublin… and John loved Dublin and he loved Europe and America. Now he’s not interested.

Hume told Sunday with Miriam that “it could be worse” as her husband is very safe in Derry:

It hasn’t actually taken away all his quality of life in that Derry is a very dementia-friendly city. People love John. He can go out for a walk. Every taxi in the place will stop for him.

“I can go for a walk myself. He can do his crosswords. He can enjoy the paper. So it could be worse.”

Asked if her own role as John’s carer is difficult, she replied: “It can be very tough.

Especially at the end of the day, and you know when somebody asks you the same question twenty times and you’re giving the same answers, it’s very hard to get up the energy to be pleasant, so it can be tough.

“I am very blessed in that I have a daughter in Derry who is a doctor and she keeps a very good eye to him.”

In so many ways I am blessed … I have great friends … we go out for lunch, I can lift the phone at any time.


The interview is receiving a strong reaction online, with many commenting about John Hume’s work and the strength of Pat Hume:

Dementia Friendly 

Pat Hume added that she would like to see a greater knowledge of areas being dementia friendly:

“Dementia-friendly workplaces, dementia-friendly cities. Because it is getting very common and it must be really really sad for the individual because you lose your uniqueness; you lose so much.

And it would be wonderful if out of somebody like John who is a fairly prominent person if it would lead people to consider let’s make our area a dementia-friendly area.

“And then, when people say are out for a meal and they [person with dementia] might say something which is inappropriate because the filter does go in the brain, that you can just shrug your shoulders.”

Read: One in three people born this year will suffer from dementia>

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