THE wife of Kes author Barry Hines is asking Barnsley people to be more compassionate to those - like her husband - who have dementia.

Eleanor Hines, 68, is working with the Alzheimer's Society to combat the stigma associated with the condition which can cause noisy and aggressive behaviour and can often be confused by people for drunkenness or the effects of drugs.

Eleanor, of Tankersley Lane, Hoyland Common, has had to deal with all kinds of cruelty and prejudice when out with Barry - ranging from jeering schoolboys to dirty looks.

Barry, 74, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007 when he was in his late 60s. He also has a second form of dementia, Lewy Body, which causes hallucinations.

Eleanor, who has been married to Barry since 1980, said: "On hearing about the diagnosis, people were shocked - most did not know what to say.

"There was a small initial flurry of phone calls, on the lines of 'let me know if I can help' but the only help offered was calling for a cup of tea. Then people just faded away."

By 2010, Barry had deteriorated to the extent that he had to go into care for his own safety. Eleanor said: "I kept him at home as long as I could and when I had to give in and place him in care, it was truly the worst day of my life."

What made matters even more painful was the way people had reacted when Barry and Eleanor went out.

"There were a few random acts of kindness, but it was the jeering boys from Kirk Balk, the dirty looks from a neighbour, people avoiding me, and the feeling of isolation which will stay in my mind for ever," she added.

"It's hard to look after anybody with dementia, but when they're very noisy and troubled, even going shopping is a nightmare. I apologise to Morrison's for all the half-filled trollies I had to abandon because of the outraged looks from other customers."

Barry, who was born in Hoyland Common, wrote the book A Kestrel For a Knave in 1968. It was made into the iconic film Kes which ranks in the top ten British films of all time.

"All I want is for people to understand what dementia is and not be so afraid of it," said Eleanor.