After Julie’s mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2017, she decided to quit her job and care for her mum full-time. Along with her husband Andrew, and her dog Maisy, Julie took part in Memory Walk last year to raise vital funds for Alzheimer’s Society.
This year, Julie is walking again – and here, she explains why Memory Walk is so important to her.
Mum kept forgetting things – that was how it started.
I asked the doctor about it a couple of times, and they said she was just fine, there wasn’t anything wrong with her.
Eventually I wrote a letter and insisted they perform a proper check. They sent a specialist to Mum’s house, who gave her an assessment, and said, ‘Yes, it’s dementia.’
Caring for Mum
Mum has a few health issues, besides the dementia. She has asthma, a pacemaker, she’s visually impaired… physically, she’s very dependent. And of course, people don’t meet up like they used to, so after her diagnosis she was alone in the house, brooding over things and getting depressed.
Meanwhile, I was working as a teaching assistant, and I was getting constant phone calls at work about her appointments.
I thought, ‘She needs somebody with her. She needs to get out of the house!’ So I gave up my job to care for her. I just called the head teacher right away, and let her know. It was a big decision, but I feel it was the right decision.
I take her to a Dementia Café every day, and to support groups, as well as trips to the park, supermarket and the seaside; she has a much better social life now.
Mum and our family
Mum is upbeat most of the time – she can be a bit immature, she likes having attention! She’s always talking about something, bless her.
This year I took her on a holiday to the Isle of Man to have a nice reunion with her sister and her brother. We had a lovely time, but I think everyone was exhausted from seeing us by the end of it!
My family are so important in terms of providing support: my husband Andrew, my daughter Hayley, and some of my close friends. My husband always helps out and pushes her wheelchair. He’s got a really good sense of humour about it all, which is a big help.
Every Thursday, we bring her great-grandson Lucas to see her. It’s the best day of the week for her, every time. He’s only two, but he’s fantastic – he’s so caring for a little boy. He’s always watching out for her, and if she tries to go down the back step by herself, he’ll shout, ‘Stop, Grandma!’
And then there’s our cockapoo, Maisy, who always comes with us. My mum loves her to bits – it’s really comforting for her to have a dog there.
Our Memory Walk
Last year, my husband, Maisy and I took on the Memory Walk at Heaton Park, in Manchester.
My husband struggles to walk for long distances sometimes, but he still managed to complete it. There were quite a few dogs, too! We made Maisy an Alzheimer’s Society bandana to wear, and at the end, she got a medal.
We’ll be walking again this year, too. I’ll look out for the adverts, and as soon as it comes on TV, I’ll sign up.
I’d highly recommend the Memory Walk to anyone. It’s just great, a fantastic experience. Everyone’s really upbeat.
Even if you’re feeling down, it’s uplifting, it gives you that real team spirit – and Alzheimer’s Society is such a worthy cause.
- All ages and abilities can unite together to raise money to defeat dementia by taking part in Memory Walk. The walks are spread across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and each walk will take on a different route, either through a city, woodlands or a park.
- Who are you walking for? Share your personal experiences of Memory Walk in the comments below.