UK

Author Wendy Mitchell dies after years documenting dementia battle, family say

The 68-year-old announced her own death in a posthumous blog post.

Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 58
Wendy Mitchell Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 58 (Alzheimer's Society/PA)

Author Wendy Mitchell has died after spending years documenting her battle with dementia, her family said.

A letter published posthumously on the 68-year-old’s blog on Thursday said “if you’re reading this, it means this has probably been posted by my daughters as I’ve sadly died”.

Mother-of-two Ms Mitchell, from Yorkshire, was diagnosed with early onset dementia aged 58 in 2014.

She was an ambassador at the Alzheimer’s Society and wrote two Sunday Times bestsellers: Her 2018 memoir titled Somebody I Used to Know, and a guide to the disease called What I Wish People Knew About Dementia published in 2022.

In the letter, shared on her site titled Which Me Am I Today?, Ms Mitchell said she died after deciding to stop eating and drinking, and advocated for assisted dying to be legalised in the UK.

The former NHS worker said: “Sorry to break the news to you this way, but if I hadn’t, my inbox would eventually have been full of emails asking if I’m OK, which would have been hard for my daughters to answer.

“In the end I died simply by deciding not to eat or drink any more.

“The last cuppa tea… my final hug in a mug, the hardest thing to let go of, much harder than the food I never craved…”

“Dementia is a cruel disease that plays tricks on your very existence.

“I’ve always been a glass half full person, trying to turn the negatives of life around and creating positives, because that’s how I cope.”

Her final book One Last Thing: Living With The End In Mind covers assisted dying.

In her posthumous blog post she argued people should be able to chose between euthanasia and palliative care, and added that she had wanted to go to Dignitas in Switzerland, a non-profit clinic that provides “physician-assisted suicide”.

She said: “It’s amazing how such little value is placed on the act of dying.

“If assisted dying was available in this country, I would have chosen it in a heartbeat, but it isn’t.

“I didn’t want dementia to take me into the later stages; that stage where I’m reliant on others for my daily needs; others deciding for me when I shower or maybe insisting I had a bath, which I hate; or when and what I eat and drink.

“I was hoping to go there (to Dignitas) at the beginning of the year”.

Her daughters Sarah and Gemma announced Ms Mitchell’s death from her account on X.

The post said: “Our mum died peacefully early this morning. She wrote a blog post before she died so you can read about it from her perspective.”