After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 56 years old, Malcolm sadly passed away in 2018. His wife Jeanette remains passionate about fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society and won’t let coronavirus prevent her from organising her own Memory Walk this year.
At first it was the little things. Malcolm forgot how to tie his tie, and when we went to a hotel spa for a holiday, he began to sink in the pool. He’d forgotten how to swim.
He’d been signed off work for depression and I knew something was wrong for over a year before his diagnosis.
‘There was a lot of back and forth with the doctors because they couldn’t believe someone so young could have the disease, but a little part of me knew.’
It took quite a while to get a brain scan because he was afraid of the machine. We eventually got a confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease when he was just 56 years old.
That same day Malcolm went down to the Alzheimer’s Society office in Stockport to get all the information he could. The team were amazing and provided him with all the information he wanted and helped me get the support I needed too.
‘At every support group we went along to, he was the youngest person there. He was always the baby of every group, so I think people took a shine to him.’
We had a carer who would come and visit our home and help Malcolm while I was out. Then one day I came home and I knew something was wrong. He collapsed in my arms and was rushed into hospital. He was there for three months and needed rehabilitation.
I was told he couldn’t come home – and that he’d never walk again. From there he went into a care home and with the help of some carers, I helped him to walk again.
Corned beef and profiteroles
He could walk for another year and would even come home once a week for his tea. I’d always cook him corned beef and profiteroles, every week.
Unfortunately, Malcolm developed epilepsy from the Alzheimer’s. The seizures got so bad he was fighting for his life.
He was transferred to a nursing home and he lived there for six years. I visited him every single day, from morning through to evening.
‘He never forgot me – we always had a really strong connection and I was pleased the home respected that.’
They let me do as much as I wanted and left me alone to dress and shower him.
On Remembrance Sunday in 2018, Malcolm suddenly deteriorated. He had a Do Not Resuscitate instruction and they called me to ask what I wanted them to do. I thought about it long and hard – he’d fought and battled for so long.
He lived until the Thursday and I was there with him. I whispered ‘You can go, I’ll be alright’ in his ear and he opened his eyes and looked at me. He died in my arms.
After Malcolm passed away, Alzheimer’s Society arranged bereavement counselling for me and employees from the Society came to his funeral. He was loved by so many, but I was really touched that they came.
Mud and medals
I’ve taken part in lots of different fundraising campaigns and events for Alzheimer’s Society, including Cupcake Day and the GLOW walks.
But I do the Memory Walk every year. We had a bit of a mishap at the last one as it was pouring with rain and got so muddy they unfortunately had to cancel it! We still showed up and even got a medal but it’s quite funny looking back.
‘Malcolm knew we were doing the walks when he was in the care home and he was so proud. When I got back, he would want to wear the medal and kept it afterwards.’
I love doing the Memory Walks because you get the chance to chat to other people and hear about their reasons for walking. It’ll be different this year as the organised events can’t take place because of coronavirus. I’ll still be organising my own Memory Walk, just around a local park.
It’s not just a day to raise money, it’s a day to think about the loved one you’re walking for. Afterwards I always get a massive sense of achievement and I look forward to them every year.
Sign up to Memory Walk
Although we can't hold organised events this year, you can still make a difference with your own Memory Walk.