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The Brains Trust: Dementia - 'It's the secret we tried to hide'

The Brains Trust features (clockwise, from left) Rita Marx, Pamela (Pummy) Hickling, Anne Pead, Herald journalists Mike Scott and Carolyne Meng-Yee, Mike's father Bob Scott with granddaughter Ruby.

Dementia might be New Zealand's biggest and worst understood problem. It's growing rapidly in our ever-ageing population - almost everyone will have a family member or know someone who suffers from some form of the disease. It's already the number one cause of death in Britain and for women in Australia and the same trend looks likely to happen here.

Yet we don't talk about dementia much. Perhaps it's understandable as the conversation can be painful. Many patients find their own children and grandchildren become unrecognisable as they are reduced to a child-like state with only memories from their youth. Family members in turn watch helplessly as they are lost to their parents and grandparents. They see their loved ones become frustrated and frightened as they forget how to perform basic daily rituals.

Herald journalists Mike Scott and Carolyne Meng-Yee decided it was time to start talking about the "D-word", as Meng-Yee puts it, in The Brains Trust, our new six-part online video series funded by New Zealand On Air. In the article below, she recalls how she and Scott came up with a plan to demystify the disease and tell the stories of devoted carers and scientists looking for a cure. And as Meng-Yee explains, for both her and Scott this was more than a story - it was personal.