A 32-year-old ski instructor needs full-time care and has been given just years to live in the ‘youngest case’ of dementia doctors have ever come across.
Becky Barletta pictured with her husband Luca, a fellow ski instructor, on their wedding day
Becky Barletta from Hundon in Suffolk was diagnosed with hereditary frontotemporal dementia one year ago, at the age of just 31.
Described as an ‘outdoorsy and outgoing blonde bombshell’ who lit up a room wherever she went, Becky’s distressed family say the condition has already altered her personality ‘beyond all recognition’.
Just 12 months after being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, Becky now lives in her parents’ home and needs 24 hour care.
Her 30-year-old sister Sophie said Becky’s diagnosis was the youngest case specialists had ever seen – and have given her just ten years to live.
She told the Cambridge News: ‘I was always so proud of her, so proud to say: “My sister is a ski instructor”.
‘I wasn’t jealous of her but she was like ‘the blonde bombshell’ compared to me.
‘She was such a good ski instructor and especially with children – all her clients loved her.
‘She wasn’t fake tan and nails she was authentically beautiful. She was outdoorsy and outgoing. Everybody loved Becks, she was beautiful. She still is.’
Sophie lives with her husband and two children next door to her parents’ home, where Becky is cared for.
She added: ‘They say the younger the patient the more rapid it can be and it has been very rapid.
‘There is not much of our old Becky left. She repeats the same stories to us and says inappropriate things. I find it so sad to watch.’
Becky was diagnosed last August by the same doctor who diagnosed her uncle James with the condition. James died in his 50s as a result of the disease.
Her mother’s cousin Philipa also died from the disease in her 40s.
Becky’s symptoms were seeming in the months leading up to her wedding, when her colleagues noticed ‘inappropriate behavior’, but she refused to go for a medical assessment.
Her family prayed her symptoms were simply due to the stress of her big day and Sophie begged Becky to get tested.
But in spite of tests, there is no faulty gene yet discovered which the family carry that explains why some of them develop the condition.
Writing on a JustGiving page to raise funds towards research, Sophie added: ‘There is currently no cure or treatment for any dementia or even treatment to stop or slow its progression.
‘We need to change this as soon as possible and can only do this through research and raising money to support this research.
‘Whilst unfortunately this will not help Becky, we know she would want us to try and halt this vile disease in it’s tracks for the benefit of the future generations in our family and other families who have been affected by dementia.’