Alzheimer's signs and symptoms as Ken Livingstone 'living with the disease'

We've outlined the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease - plus looked into prevention possibilities and where to get help.

Ken Livingstone, pictured, is living with Alzheimer's disease his family have shared. (Getty Images)
Ken Livingstone's family have revealed he is living with Alzheimer's disease. (Getty Images)

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone is living with Alzheimer's disease, his family has shared.

In a statement issued to the PA news agency the ex-MP's family said he was being “well cared for by his family and friends” as he lives a “private life” in retirement.

“In response to media enquiries the Livingstone family today announce that Ken Livingstone, ex-MP for Brent and former mayor of London, has been diagnosed with and is living with Alzheimer’s disease," the statement reads.

“Although a previously prominent public figure, Ken is now retired and lives a private life. He will no longer be available for any media interviews or requests and we will not be responding to any media questions or enquiries."

Read more: Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone 'living with Alzheimer's disease' (Sky News, 2-min read)

Anne-Marie Duff, pictured, has shared her experiences with Alzheimer's after her brother was diagnosed with the condition. (Getty Images)
Anne-Marie Duff has shared her experiences with Alzheimer's after her brother was diagnosed with the condition. (Getty Images)

News of Livingstone's diagnosis comes as Anne-Marie Duff recently discussed her brother's own battle with Alzheimer's.

She told This Morning how her older brother, Eddie, was just 40, when she noticed his behaviour had changed.

"It was just small things, which I think is quite common with any age of dementia," said before going on to share how she noticed her brother would struggle with making a cup of tea or completing other everyday tasks.

Duff isn't the only celebrity to share their own experiences of Alzheimer's and dementia recently.

Earlier this year Fiona Phillips, 62, revealed that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She recently told The Mirror that she is "living with it by not letting it ruin things", but added: "It's when I talk about it that I can't quite believe I'm talking about myself - I'm used to talking about it in relation to my mum and my dad having it.. My whole family have been slaughtered by it."

Meanwhile, singer Tony Bennet died from the condition in July this year, aged 96.

Actor Chris Hemsworth, 39, also revealed in 2022 that he had a significantly heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as he possesses two copies of the gene ApoE4. Only 2 to 3% of the population have this gene which makes them 10 time more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

From L-R: Split photo of actor Chris Hemsworth, presenter Fiona Phillips and singer Tony Bennett for Alzheimer's disease article. (Getty Images)
From L-R: Split photo of actor Chris Hemsworth, presenter Fiona Phillips and singer Tony Bennett for Alzheimer's disease article. (Getty Images)

What is Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia and is steadily increasing in the UK. It currently affects around 850,000 people, or one in every 14 people aged 65 and over.

The Alzheimer's Society estimates that the number of people with dementia will rise to 1.5 million by 2040.

Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia in the UK, which is the name for a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning, according to the NHS.

This can impact memory, thinking skills and other mental abilities.

Potential causes of Alzheimer's disease

While a specific cause isn't known for certain, risk factors are thought to include:

  • Increasing age

  • Family history of the condition

  • Untreated depression

  • Lifestyle factors associated with cardiovascular disease (affecting the heart or blood vessels)

It is most common in older people, affecting roughly one in 14 over 65 and one in six over 80. That said, around one in 20 experience it under 65, known as early or young-onset Alzheimer's disease.

As Alzheimer's is progressive, symptoms develop gradually over the years and become more severe.

Alzheimer's disease: Read more

Alzheimer's disease symptoms

The first sign of Alzheimer's is often minor memory problems, like forgetting about recent conversations or events, or the names of places and objects.

More developed and severe symptoms, according to the NHS, include:

  • confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places

  • difficulty planning or making decisions

  • problems with speech and language

  • problems moving around without assistance or doing self-care tasks

  • personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others

  • hallucinations, and low mood or anxiety

Can you prevent Alzheimer's disease?

A recent presentation at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Scientific Sessions 2023 said that a new vaccine that targets inflamed brain cells could be the key to preventing Alzheimer's.

There are also some lifestyle factors that are thought to reduce or delay the onset of dementia, as well as benefitting your overall physical and mental health. These include:

  • stopping smoking

  • cutting down alcohol

  • eating a healthy, balanced diet

  • maintaining a healthy weight

  • staying physically fit and mentally active

With memory problems often seen as a normal part of growing older, preventing people from recognising changes about themselves, signs can often be overlooked.

But an accurate and early diagnosis can help give you the best chance to prepare and plan for the future and receive treatment and support.

Senior couple speaking to GP about Alzheimer's symptoms. (Getty Images)
If someone you love has Alzheimer's symptoms, you can suggest going with them to the GP. (Getty Images)

If you're worried about your memory or possible dementia, or have noticed symptoms in someone else, speak to a GP or encourage loved ones to.

While there's currently no cure, medicines can help to relieve symptoms and support is out there to help make your everyday life easier.

More information on Alzheimer's disease

For more information on Alzheimer's and treatment, visit the NHS website.

You can also see our useful guide on what other types of dementia there are.

Get support and advice by calling Alzheimer's Society on 0333 150 3456, or other info lines that might be more accessible to you.

Watch: Fiona Phillips is suffering from Alzheimer’s

Additional reporting PA.