Kate’s story: ‘Memory Walk is a good opportunity to meet others and know you are not alone’

By taking part in Memory Walk, and joining over 100,000 walkers united against dementia, you can help fund vital research. Read Kate's personal experiences.

Kate Meacock and her mother

Receiving a diagnosis

Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few months before her 65 birthday – over eight years ago now. When she was first diagnosed I knew nothing about dementia or Alzheimer’s. It would be a couple of years before I discovered Alzheimer’s Society in Wandsworth.

I wish I knew then what I know now! It’s so important to me to continue spreading the word about the Society. I want to help people understand that even with a dementia diagnosis, you can still enjoy things.

Mum, for the first few years, certainly did and still does to some extent now. After Mum’s diagnosis, there was very limited information available to her. She was sort of patted on the back and told to go to her GP if there were any problems, which was very frustrating.

Living with dementia

Mum’s Alzheimer’s is now at a very advanced stage. She’s no longer mobile and her communication skills are very limited. I go and visit her several times every week never quite knowing what to expect. I feel there are three types of visit.

There’s the silent visit when Mum is in her own world. Her eyes don’t focus at all and whatever I say or do, I am never sure if Mum knows if I am there or not. Regardless, I chat away, give her lunch that she will always eat and tell her I love her.

The second type is the agitated visit. This is rare but usually if Mum has a cold, is getting an infection or has a pain, she rubs her hands together or on her head. She’ll be quite agitated and distracted and loudly repeats words in her own language. But, she will usually eat, and does calm down when she sees me.

The third type of visit is the best; the smiley one as I had this week. I walk in and her eyes look straight at me. They are sparkling blue. She bursts out laughing and says “Lovely” in her own voice - my mum’s distinct voice, not the ‘Alzheimer’s voice’, which is muttering. I cannot describe it, but there is a difference. We have chats about nothing and everything with Mum in her own language. I show her, as I always do, photographs and she really enjoys it – but this type of visit we just laugh, smile and I get to see ‘my mum’. It is just the best and makes my journey home much easier.

Kate Meacock and her mother

Memories from my first Memory Walk

The first walk I did for Alzheimer’s Society was a Memory Walk in Battersea Park. Mum was living in Battersea with her partner and dog when she was diagnosed with dementia. She and her partner loved walking along the River Thames, so this one appealed to me. Primarily, I walked for Mum. But I also walked for all those I have met through my volunteering with the Society, both people with dementia and their carers.

Volunteering as I do for Alzheimer’s Society, I see first-hand how important the work of the dementia support workers and advisors is. The day itself was a beautiful, sunny, warm early-autumn day. The walk was well-organised. Upon arrival, there were stalls with various local bits of relevant information or advice.

This was very useful to me at the time as I was beginning to look for carers for mum. There was simple warm-up routine before the walk and the opportunity to remember who and why we were walking.

My favourite part though was showing my mum my medal and telling her I had walked for her. It was also great to be part of a special day raising awareness together with others.

The bigger the crowd of people, the more the impact as you walk round a city or town. Memory Walk is a good opportunity to meet up with other people – to know you are not alone in the fight – caring for someone with dementia can be a very lonely time. It is also an event that someone with dementia and their family can take part in together. It makes it a lovely day to create more happy memories.

Next steps

Become a volunteer for Alzheimer Society's and learn about opportunities to support our fight against dementia.

8 comments

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Kate complex dementia like Alzheimer's Disease is accepted by NHS as a Primary Health Need, so they are obliged to do an Assessment, & if the situation is advanced they will supply a "Personal Budget" to fund all the costs of providing adequate Care, including Respite Care for the main Carer.

You seem to be coping very well, but from the photograph Mum appears to already in a Nursing Home. NHS will pay for the costs of Care there via their Continuing Healthcare provisions. These are not financially means tested, unlike Local Government Social Care arrangements.

People who can no longer cope without professional help should not left until they become physically exhausted & ill themselves looking after their loved ones. Help is available so long as you know where to get it & how to qualify. Details are explained on my website at https://continuinghealthcare.wordpress.com/

Best wishes. Peter Garside

Hi there Peter - thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or indeed any type of dementia does not carry automatic eligibility for CHC, as much as we would like it to. Eligibility for CHC funding is never ’condition specific’ and relies upon identifying the person’s needs in line with the criteria laid out by the Department of Health.

Here at Alzheimer’s Society, we suggest that the best way for people to access NHS continuing healthcare (if they think they are eligible or they represent someone who they think is eligible) is to inform themselves fully of the CHC criteria before the process starts.

We have a free booklet available called ‘Tips on preparing your case for NHS continuing healthcare’ that provides further information.

Memory Walk 16th of September at the British Ironworks at Oswestry, fun day warm up exercises, water bottles, refreshments and music plus 1mile and 3 mile walks register at val-k-brown @hotmail.co.uk for sponsorship forms and registration.

If I walk it would be for my wife who hardly ever makes any sound: She can hardly walk from our lounge to the dining room. Reading Kate's story I noticed that there was a one mile option. I am older than my wife but i could manage one mile. I use two walking sticks when I go to our local shops about half a mile away.
We used to do sponsored walks many years ago. I hope I can do this one.
Bob, aged 86.

I’ll be walking for my grandad peter who was always full of fun teasing us kids hiding our toys & shoes which causes big problems now because he still does this but forgets where they are and we go home in just our socks till our gran finds them . He as started to get very angry & agitated & rubs his hand wen he’s doesn’t understand & or can’t do somthing & it’s getting harder for us all to understand him somtime which really upsets him & also his family but the good time are still there & we cherish every day we av with him .i was never a walker till I did my first memory walk 2 years ago & now I love to walk the dog & very offten take grandad with me .I will be doing my 3 walk this year & looking forward to getting together with family & other walkers & raising money for such a good cause Ashlyn fisher age 16

Hi Bob you are already half way there with your determination and wanting to acknowledge your life with your loved wife ,some how you will find the strength to achieve your goal best wishes from Oamaru NZ

Lovely to hear 'real life' stories from other people who deal with Alzheimer's disease on a daily basis. My Mum too has 'distant' moments but also times when there is a connection.

My mum has loved seeing the photos and I have had some really 'smiley' visits with her recently which is so lovely.

Bob I hope and know you will find a walk

Best wishes to all Kate

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