A 45-YEAR-OLD former soldier living with a rare form of Alzheimer's has shared his family's heartbreaking story in a programme on the BBC.

Chris Graham, who has lived in Trafford for the last two years, appeared in the first part of BBC Two's Dementia and Us on Tuesday, October 5.

He has familial dementia, a condition affecting around 100 families in the UK.

Chris and his brother Tony both inherited the condition from their father, who died around twenty-five years ago aged 42, without a diagnosis.

Tony also died from dementia in January, just months before his 50th birthday.

Chris and sister Liz Williams, who does not have dementia despite a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it, think the condition's tragic toll on their family might go back even further into the past.

Liz said: "With dad, no one knew he had it.

"His behaviour became very strange, and he would do things like drink washing-up liquid.

"He was eventually placed in a mental institution in 1981 and he died there four years later.

"My dad’s dad also died at a young age. They thought he had shell shock after the war, but we think it could have been dementia."

On Tony, Liz added: "For the last years of his life, Tony was bedridden and unable to speak.

"It started with him losing his vocabulary and eventually he could not speak at all. That was the cruellest bit. Tony lost his voice."

Despite the family's heartbreaking story, Chris and Liz did not want their appearance on Dementia and Us to become 'a pity party'.

Chris, who has three children, lives an active and independent lifestyle.

He cycles and runs a lot and is taking on a trek of the Sahara Desert to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund in November.

He and Liz also volunteered at the Alzheimer's Society's Manchester Memory Walk at Heaton Park towards the start of October.

Liz said: "We wanted to make people aware of what young onset dementia can be like, but we didn't want it to be a pity party.

“You can’t be down around Chris. He is always laughing and joking and he is a glass half full person. If you don’t smile around Chris then you will never smile at all.”

The second part of Dementia and Us on BBC Two tonight at 9pm.

Visit alzheimers.org.uk for information on the Alzheimer's Society and memorywalk.org.uk for information on the Memory Walk.