'Dementia snatched her away' - Aimee's fundraising story about her gran, Helen

Aimee treasures the remarkable relationship shared with her late grandmother, Helen, who had dementia. Now, Aimee is desperate to make a difference by helping to fundraise for other people affected by dementia.

Almost two years ago, one of the brightest lights in my life burnt out forever. Only, my gran’s special glow had been fading for a while. Years and years, in fact.

No matter how much fuel and kindling we provided, nothing was enough to re-ignite the real her.

Watching her vibrant flames gradually diminish to embers through my teenage years and early twenties was the most heartbreaking experience of my life.

It felt almost twisted watching her slowly regress back to a child-like state when she herself had helped care for me as a young toddler while my parents worked.

Aimee as a child with her grandmother

My gran with me as a baby.

One of the worst aspects was involuntarily being a useless bystander. A silenced, woeful witness.

I desperately climbed the ladder as she floated further and further away from us, but the rungs kept snapping in front of me as I grappled for her, and dementia snatched her away.

Piece by piece, month by month, year by year.

My gran has now gone. Nothing will ever fill the void she left in my heart and soul. But, in a way, that just means I’m lucky. Lucky to have had such a special bond with such a special, loving lady.

We loved each other so fiercely, right until the end.

She may no longer have known my name, but the eyes don’t lie. They glistened with nothing but love as they bore into mine on each and every visit. She still showered me with hugs and kisses and held my hand so tightly.

In a way, we were lucky enough that her candle burned out before the disease could steal one of the most important pieces of her – her vehement love for her family.

Eager to make a difference

I’m now tired of being utterly powerless.  I have been itching to help in some way, any way. I did all I could for my gran. I danced with her, sang to her, laughed with her, held her as tightly as I could and made sure she knew how loved she was. Eager to ensure she was happy from one minute to the next, as that’s the timeframe she lived in towards the end. But nothing felt like it was enough.

I couldn’t make it better. I couldn’t bring back the ‘real’ her. I couldn’t take away the pain my mum and other family members were experiencing. I couldn’t take away my own hurt. We were all broken and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fix it. Rationally, I know no one could have.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

Dementia is a devastating end for so many people, and it crushes so many families across the UK.

I am desperate to make a difference.

To anyone who has been or is currently affected by this terrible disease, I am truly sorry. I wish I could help you and tell you it’s going to get better. I believe it’s an illness and experience no one can fully understand until they have witnessed it first-hand.

You can’t yet grieve the loss of your loved one because they are still physically here, but, in a way, they’re also already gone. That in itself is a confusing and devastating concept to process.

Aimee smiling with her grandmother

My gran, Helen, and me a couple of years ago.

Taking on a fundraising challenge

To contribute to alleviating the suffering of even one person affected by dementia would be very humbling.

In order to hopefully help as many people as possible, I will be joining Alzheimer’s Society on 9 July to climb the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to help raise funds for this amazing charity. 

Any donations at all towards this great cause would be very much appreciated through my JustGiving page.

Fundraise for Alzheimer's Society

Challenge yourself by taking on one of our many fundraising events and raise money to help fight dementia. You can take part in an organised trekking adventure with like-minded people of all ages.

Take on your own trek