Shobna Gulati on her mother's dementia: "There is stigma - particularly in Asian communities"

Danny Thompson
Shobna Gulati attends the the National Television Awards at 02 Arena on January 23, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

Actress Shobna Gulati has spoke about her mother’s battle with dementia - to try and end stigma linked with the condition in the South Asian community.

The 52-year-old, best known for her role as Coronation Street’s Sunita Alahan, helps care for her mother Asha, who is living with vascular dementia, and wrote about her experiences in a blog for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Gulati, 52, said her mother was ‘the matriarch of the family and the community’ and that ‘when I had to choose a plus-one for red carpet events, it would always be Mum’.

Gulati wrote: “We’ve always been close. Living around the corner to Mum meant she’s always been a major influence in my life.

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“It’s not so easy for Mum to keep up any more these days, and she prefers to stay at home.

“The first signs that something was wrong was when Mum’s normal character seemed to dial up a few notches.

“At first, our arguments would seem different, lasting for days rather than hours. I’d anguish over what I’d done so wrong to upset her. Mum is a headstrong lady and, looking back, she covered the cracks for about three years before her diagnosis.

“None of us knew much about dementia before that. But when the diagnosis came, it was there in black and white: vascular dementia - then life started to change for us.

Actresses Kate Ford and Shobna Gulati pose with their award for 'Best Soap' at the TV Quick and TV Choice Awards at the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane on September 5, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)

The actress goes on to express how the stigma around dementia in South Asian communities ‘weighs strongly’ on her mother.

Gulati said: “Every day, every hour, every second can be different. Some days we laugh and laugh together, some days Mum just can’t find comfort in anything.

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“There is so much stigma about dementia, particularly in South Asian communities. This weighs strongly on mum and, to this day, she’s struggled to accept her diagnosis.

“Because it’s been less painful for her to shy away from the perceived stigma of the diagnosis than to share it, and that’s where things need to change for future generations. Vascular dementia has definitely made Mum more socially isolated, and more and more of today’s older generation is facing this future.”

Gulati starred in long-running ITV soap Coronation Street between 2001 and 2013. She starred in BBC comedy Dinnerladies between 1998 and 2000.