David Bailey has revealed he has dementia, a life-limiting condition the British photographer described as a bore.
Speaking to the Times, Bailey, 83, said: “I’ve got vascular dementia. I was diagnosed about three years ago.
“It’s a fucking bore but it’s just one of those things. In some ways it’s good: I can see a film and forget it, then enjoy it again two years later. And it doesn’t seem to affect my work at all.”
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s and estimated to affect around 150,000 people in the UK. It is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, and symptoms include confusion, slow thinking and changes in mood or behaviour, according to the NHS.
The British Heart Foundation says that sufferers live on average five years after symptoms are identified.
Despite the disease, Bailey remains busy with a number of projects, and during the pandemic spent time painting at his homes in London and Devon.
“You make the most of every day, because there might not be a tomorrow,” said Bailey, who has been married to his fourth wife, the model Catherine Dyer, for 35 years and hasn’t drunk or smoked for nearly 50.
“Catherine and I have been together 40 years. That’s a long time. Especially when you’ve only got three months’ memory,” he said.
Having travelled to remote parts of India, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea until his 70s, Bailey said: “I only realised I was old a couple of years ago, and it came as a great shock. Eighty-three. Fucking hell.”