What a difference a year makes – early Alzheimers

Sharing our story is not something I would normally do. However, I hope by doing so other people can be directed to support and advice. – Rosemary

Most of us have certain dates we remember. From birthdays, anniversaries, passing driving tests etc. Yet for my family just now the date imprinted in our minds is August 12th 2011, the day we were told my husband had early Alzheimers. He was 51 yrs old.

He had been ill from work for several months but was for medical tests. He had lost a vast amount of weight, losing blood, no appetite and in severe pain. At the back of our minds, as you do, we assumed we knew what it was. His dad had been 59 yrs old when he died of bowel cancer, so our minds went in to overtime.

It was during these medical tests his consultant asked hubby if he had been experiencing any other problems, asked him some basic questions and from then on in we had a whole new lot of tests. This time for his brain. These continued long after his medical issues were sorted.

For our beloved NHS we have only praise. Over several months we attended 4 different hospitals, referred to 5 consultants. Community nurses/occupational therapists visited our home. We were given one to one counselling, just to talk through the illness and the services provided locally. The advice and support were second to none.

Medication (Aricept) was started, 5 mg for 12 weeks and then increased to 10mg. He remains on that dosage today.

Coming to terms with the diagnosis was difficult. Even now hubby talks as if it is happening to someone else. He does not really understand what lies ahead, but I do. Having over 30 yrs experience as a family carer I knew where to go for advice and support. Yet nothing had prepared me for this.

That is when Liz Williams from South Shields Alzheimers Society entered our lives. Liz supports those with Alzheimers, especially those providing the care needed. She guided us through, and always at the end of the phone/email.

So when Liz phoned a few weeks ago asking for a favour, my husband did not hesitate to say Yes. She asked if he would be willing to cut the ribbon for the North East Memory Walk 2012. He felt it was an honour.

After discussions with Debbie Keenan ( locality manager ) and Howard Keal (Press officer) we were all set. Our only worry was that the atrocious north east weather we have been having would hold off..and it did.

I will post again soon about how Alzheimers is affecting hubby, affecting us as a couple and as a family but for now it is all positive.

He is still the 16 year old boy I fell in Love with. The man who for over 36 years has been my rock, and more importantly, my best friend. It is time now to create new memories, ones that myself and daughters can hold on to in the years ahead.

The support received from online friends has been immense, for which I thank you all.

Memory Walk 2012

Scaffolder Sean scales new height  For Tyneside Memory Walk  Shields Gazette

Posted on Alzheimers Society website

Comment from Debbie Keenan

”We have seen people of all ages walking together to fight dementia – the response has been absolutely magnificent. Together everyone has taken a huge step to support the vital services that we provide for people with dementia and carers in Tyneside and our search for better treatments that are so badly needed.
Alzheimer’s Society encouraged people to go the extra mile with many taking part in Bupa’s ‘Memory Mile’ at the end of the walk to raise a further £5 donated by the company for each person completing the distance.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy at Carers UK said:

“There are around 600,000 people across the UK who care unpaid for a loved one with dementia. Alongside the physical strains of caring, often round the clock – looking after a loved one who has dementia can lead to huge loneliness, frustration and fear for the future. Carers UK pays tribute to all those who are raising awareness of the impact of dementia on people with the condition and their carers, and fundraising for essential support for these families. We know that it is so crucial that families get the support, advice and information they need – from the moment of diagnosis, so that they are supported to understand and live with dementia.”

I have added further photographs from the Memory Walk and also for those needing support, please visit  Talking Point and CarersUK support forums.

Please also read Whose Shoes blog re Dementia/Alzheimers

Zumba warm up

Almost ready for the off

“Are you alright Dad”

…and they’re off
……….. over 450 people will cross the start line
10k later
with Howard Keal from Alzheimers Society

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One Response to “What a difference a year makes – early Alzheimers”

  1. gaskel Says:

    that’s very moving, rosemary


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