the difference between Britain and Greece


Registered User
Jun 18, 2004
Crete, Greece
I am Scottish and live in Crete with my Greek husband. His mother was diagnosed last year after an outburst of her ripping off all her clothes outside. Until that happened we just thought she was becoming forgetful as she is now 92. However since then it has been so difficult for my husband who is the youngest of four. He looks after her like an egg in a cake while his brothers and sisters don't want to know. They do not visit and never call. My husband says she did it all for him when he was a child so he will now do it for her. Greek people are still very much in the dark ages as far as any illness of the mind is concerned and just want to hide their faces. You can see the fear when you tell them of her problem. There is the most uptodate medicine here and yet no leaflets explainging the illness (not that anyone would read it if there was). Your site is a wonderful help to my husband as it's simple and easy for him to understand. My mother in law gets Aricept which I believe is very expencive and therefore not used much in Britain. It helps her a lot but does not stop her ripping her clothes which she does nearly every day and I am now struggling to keep up with her, in making her new ones. She throws small pieces of paper everywhere and spits on the floor among other things. I'm never sure what she will do next. My husband want us to take her on holiday for a few days but I have to be honest and say I don't want to go. The British people do know about this illness and there are many who are helpful and understanding, but here, well that is just something else. There are no homes, only one or two for old people who are alone (but in no way like the ones in Britain) and if it wasn't for my husband she would be in the mental institution in Hania as they don't have anywhere else. It's 'out of sight out of mind', I know this all sounds unbelievable in this day and age but it's how it is at the moment (a bit like Britain forty years ago). I'm sure that the Greeks are all working very hard to change it but it will take time. The hospitals here have wonderful doctors, and no waiting lists so if you need to see a specialist you just go that day and wait. If you are admitted to hospital then the families stay with the patients to clean and feed them as the nurses are only there to give medication. I can't really write it all here as it would be like a book. I really just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone as you have helped my husband and myself to understand some of my mother in laws behaviour and have given us ways to help her more. God bless you all and Thank you


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Hello Cath

thanks for telling us about your experiences. Jan and I went to Crete on at least four holidays, the last time being her last 'real' holiday, and we always loved the place and in particular the people.

It is interesting to learn of life there when it is not just a trip to the beach or Knossos, the Samaria Gorge, or Spinalonga.

I think the people of Crete are very family-oriented and fiercely independent, with a strong sense of honour. This is good from many points of view, but is not so good when one is in your situation. If incidences of dementia are all 'hidden' behind family doors, then there will never be seen a need for support outside that traditional way.

I'd take a guess and suggest the clothes issue is an aspect of sundowning.

Other than that, I don't really have anything sensible to contribute, other than to suggest that you tell the local doctors about this forum as it may help other people in Crete who are living with the same challenges.

Britain and Crete have a strong history together, so we may as well build on that by sharing resources!