Health

Fife Memory Walk: help to ensure that no one is confronted with dementia alone

Fife Memory Walk: help to ensure that no one is confronted with dementia alone

There are more than 1000 different forms of dementia, with Alzheimer's disease being just one.

Here in Fife, 7,000 people are currently supported on their dementia holiday by the Alzheimer Scotland charity.

But there are probably many more families that only muddle through, waiting for a diagnosis.

It is expected that by 2020 20,000 people in Scotland will get the condition.

So it is clear that Alzheimer Scotland needs more and more support to ensure that no one is confronted with dementia alone.

On Sunday, Fifers get the chance to support the charity when the Fife Memory Walk is organized at Lochore Meadows Country Park in Lochgelly.

The leadership of organizing this walk is Sally Davidson, the community fundraiser of the charity for Fife, Edinburgh, the Lothians and Borders. Although she is only three months later, Sally is already inspired by the many families she met during that time.

She said: "I have worked for years as a fundraiser for the community and have never participated in the charity I have worked for before – it always felt too much like a busman's holiday.

"But I have already signed up for Alzheimer Scotland and I am only three months later!

"The people I met were incredible and the charity seems to resonate with so many people.

"I've just been driving around in an Alzheimer's car from Scotland and people have waved and gestured at me.

"There seems to be an incredible affection for the charity, probably because so many families are affected by dementia.

"I just did the Jedburgh walk on the weekend and the atmosphere was incredible.

"I also helped with walks in Dundee and East Dunbartonshire, and we all got soaked in Milngavie, but it did not dampen the spirits.

"Although I hope the weather is better on Sunday, I am sure that the Fife walk will be just as good.

"Memory walks bring together a community of people for a cause that is close to their heart – Fifers already have a fantastic sense of community, so I'm sure it will be a wonderful day."

Michelle Simpson is one of 79 people who have registered for the Fife Memory Walk.

The 33-year-old rental manager is walking with her sons Oliver (8) and Harry (2) in memory of her mother, who unfortunately died recently.

She said: "I am completely devastated by losing my flu against dementia.

"She has always been my best friend and although she is devastating to lose other relatives to the disease, I have found my mother's experiences particularly difficult in recent years.

"I participated in the memorial walk with my two boys last year.

"This year we will walk again in loving memory of my gran, grandfather and great-uncle.

"It is vital to raise awareness and funds.

"Dementia is not just about forgetting things and getting older." It is a devastating and serious disease, but unfortunately it is not always seen as such.

"Undoubtedly the walk this year will be special for me.

"Last year I had a small tear in my eyes during the walk and this year it will be even more emotional after losing my gran in the weeks prior to the walk."

Many other people will walk during the Sunday event in memory of loved ones.

Hearing their stories is a privilege for Sally, who often helps to fill in the maps that walkers proudly carry along the route.

She explained, "Walkers get cards to wear on their tops.

"People post photos of their loved ones on the map or say who they are walking for – their great gran or their father who would have been 65 that day.

"To hear people's stories is always very emotional, but it is also a great privilege.

"It also helps to bring people together – there is a real sense of community and people enjoy walking and talking along the route and sharing their experiences."

There will also be a party mood thanks to the free face-painter and balloon-modeller for the little ones.

Sally added: "They are very talented and come into the spirit of the event – in Jedburgh one man got her painted on his bare spot!

"We will also play music and some stalls."

There is still time to participate

Whether you are stepping, strolling or wobbling, the Memory Walk is perfect for all ages and talents.

The Fife 5K event takes place on Sunday (September 16) at Lochore Meadows Country Park, Lochgelly.

The registration is opened by the visitor center at 12.00, with the walk at 13.00.

While the online registration is now closed, registration is available on the day £ 15 for adults, £ 5 for persons aged 12 to 16 and free for children under 12 years.

The route is wheelchair, buggy and dog friendly, so there is no reason why the whole family can not participate.

There are approximately 90,000 people with dementia in Scotland and it is estimated that 20,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition each year by 2020. Henry Simmons, the chief executive of Alzheimer's, said: "Our Memory Walks are a great way for people in Scotland to come together to help us raise awareness about dementia and vital funds to support people with this condition in our local communities .

"Every penny will be raised to our goal – ensuring that no one only faces dementia.

"Our local resources throughout Scotland are committed to providing the best possible care, support and information to anyone affected by dementia.

"They also work to ensure that people with dementia and their caregivers are recognized and valued in their local communities.

"Every step that walkers take on Lochore on Sunday will help us make the difference."

So grab your boots and help Alzheimer Scotland to make sure that nobody is only dealing with dementia.

For more information about the Fife event, visit www.memorywalksscotland.org.