‘Lincoln Memory Walk’ raises awareness of dementia

Despite over 11 thousand people in Lincolnshire currently suffering with dementia, it still remains a ‘forgotten’ disease.

Alice Rose is walking in memory of her grandma, who suffered from dementia. Photo: Alice Rose

However, both sufferers and their families will be walking to fight dementia one step at a time, at “Lincoln Memory Walk” on Sunday, September 9th.

Organisers of the walk, the Alzheimer’s Society, hope it will raise awareness and help build funds to combat dementia and support sufferers, as well as their carers.

Dementia is actually an umbrella term for degenerative mental diseases, including the most common form – Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms can vary from periods of memory loss to changes in personality and episodes of confusion, gradually worsening and eventually becoming debilitating.

Hayley Child, East Midlands Fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society, explains why the walk is taking place: “It’s a flagship fundraising event for us. It allows people to come along who have been affected by the disease to walk in memory of a loved one. We also have a ‘memory tree’ which will allow people to fill out a memory tag for someone they care about.”

As with many degenerative illnesses, dementia doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed with it. The families of dementia sufferers are relied on for support and care – and can eventually become carers themselves.

Hayley continues: “Dementia is a devastating disease which robs people of their lives. Those who are walking are part of an effort to fight this disease and try to stop others in the future having the same experience.

“One in three people over 65 will die with the disease so it will affect us all one way or another. The more support the walkers get, the more support the Alzheimer’s Society can provide – until a cure is found.”

Although dementia is most common in the elderly, it can affect people of most ages.  And while there is no cure, sometimes drugs and medication can slow the effects if it’s caught early.  Yet symptoms can remain undiagnosed, put down to ‘old age,’ or simply ignored until it is too late.

Hayley explains how devastating the full force of dementia and Alzheimer’s can be: “For many people who have seen their relative in the later stages of the disease, it’s very much grieving for someone whose personality and memories have disappeared but physically are still the same. It’s a very difficult thing to get your head around.”

Alice Rose is a 19-year-old second year Journalism student from the University of Lincoln. She’s taking part in honour of someone who was very close to her:  “I’m walking for my grandma. If you have someone in your memory I think it makes it a lot more significant.

“Dementia is something you really don’t want to see. It’s upsetting. You never want to see a family member in that situation at all.”

Like with many sufferers, the symptoms were missed at first: “It wasn’t really diagnosed with my grandma. She never realised what was going on, but just suddenly flipped into it. It just develops in its own way. You don’t realise until it’s suddenly noticeable, or someone mentions something.”

Alice says family and friends have backed her taking part in the Lincoln Memory Walk: “I’ve had loads of support. My friends have all contributed and supported me, and a few of them are walking with me. My grandma was always proud of everything her grandchildren did, so hopefully she would be proud of me taking part.”

The Lincoln Memory Walk starts from the Plough pub on Newark Road at 10.30am on Sunday, September 9th. The route ranges from one, two and four miles for individuals and groups of all abilities. A brass band will welcome everyone registering from 10am.

The money raised will be used locally in Lincolnshire to continue to provide services for people affected by dementia. Further details can be viewed on the Lincoln Memory Walk website.

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