There are more than 1000 different types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s being just one of them.
Here in Aberdeenshire, 4325 people are currently being supported on their dementia journey by the charity Alzheimer Scotland.
But there are likely many more families who are muddling through on their own, waiting for a diagnosis.
It is expected that 20,000 people in Scotland will be diagnosed with the condition every year until 2020.
So it is clear Alzheimer Scotland needs ever more support to ensure no-one faces dementia alone.
Next Sunday, September 30, people in Aberdeenshire will be given a chance to support the charity when the Aberdeen Memory Walk is staged at Hazlehead Park.
And among those taking part will be Team Fredda, a group of women from Aberdeenshire who have already raised £900.
It’s a cause very close to Lesley Hampton’s heart as her mum Fredda McIntosh was diagnosed two years ago.
It took the Stonehaven family a year to get the diagnosis but Fredda (74) hasn’t looked back since.
Thanks to Alzheimer Scotland, she is enjoying life to the full while her husband Jim (78) – to whom she has been married 52 years – has time to enjoy his own pastimes, golf and walking.
Lesley said: “The charity has been fantastic – I don’t know what we’d do without it – and we can’t thank Sarah Duff, Jill Jamieson and the team enough for their continued support.
“Even before we had the diagnosis, they were there to offer advice.
“And in the last two years, mum has enjoyed a host of activities locally.
“She is a very social person and has always had a very positive outlook.
“She does yoga every week and takes part in the walking, musical memories and exercise classes.
“Mum also enjoys the art classes – she has been a very good amateur for about 15 years and has even sold some of her work so she loves it.
“And she goes to Boogie in the Bar at Portlethen. A group of them go to a pub to enjoy dancing. It helps stimulate memories.
“Even people who struggle to communicate, like mum, are able to remember words to some songs.
“Mum also goes to day care every Thursday. She’s got a pretty active social life!
“Alzheimer Scotland puts great emphasis on people having fun and it’s a real tonic for mum.”
Jim, Lesley (52), her brother Robert (50) and Fredda’s two grandchildren, Olivia (22) and Michael (21) are very grateful for all the support they’ve received.
So, by way of thanks, Lesley decided to take part in this year’s Memory Walk.
But rather than doing it on her own, she has turned it into a girls’ day out.
She’ll be walking the 3.9K route with her mum, Fredda’s life-long friend Liz McKenzie and two close friends, Denice Kennedy and Julia Achard.
The fabulous five initially set themselves a fundraising target of £200 but have already far surpassed that.
And Lesley would like to thank everyone who has supported them so far.
She said: “We’re sitting at £900 at the moment which we’re really chuffed with.
“Everyone has been so supportive, probably because dementia has touched so many lives.
“Mum is still fit enough to do it, which is fantastic, and we’re all really looking forward to the day – it should be great fun.
“We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to sponsor Team Fredda.
“It’s my way of saying thank you to Alzheimer Scotland but also as a means of raising awareness of the services available here.
“We need to make sure the charity keeps going as it does so much to help families – it would be a real struggle without it. We just want to do our bit to help.”
While next Sunday is a girls only affair, Lesley has received a lot of support and encouragment from her husband Mike and her dad, a former coal merchant, who is Fredda’s main carer.
She added: “Mum worked with dad in the business as a book-keeper – she was a financial adviser before that and a cook in a care home.
“It’s important she stays as stimulated as possible, in a safe environment.
“When’s she’s with the Alzheimer Scotland team, we don’t have to worry.
“It gives dad a break too, which is important as he has had to take on the caring role. He has been amazing.”
If you’d like to support Team Fredda, visit https://www.justgiving.com/Lesley-hampton.
How to sign up for the walk...
Whether you stride, stroll or toddle, the Memory Walk is perfect for all ages and abilities.
The Aberdeen walk will be held at Hazlehead Park in Aberdeen on Sunday, September 30. Online registration for the 1.3K and 3.9K walks is open until Monday, September 24, priced £10 for adults, £5 for those aged 12 to 16 and free for under 12s.
On the day, registration opens at noon by the Park Cafe, with the walks kicking off at 1pm.
However, it will cost £15 for adults on the day (cash only). The shorter walk is suitable for Memory Walkers of all ages, including pushchairs and wheelchairs, while the longer 3.9km walk will take participants further into the park and woodlands.
There are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and it is now estimated that 20,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition every year by 2020. Henry Simmons, Alzheimer Scotland’s chief executive, 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 living with the condition.
“Every penny raised will go towards our goal – making sure that no-one faces dementia alone.
“Our local resource hubs are committed to providing the best possible care, support and information.
“They also work to ensure people with dementia and their carers are recognised in their local communities.
“Every step walkers take next Sunday in Aberdeen will help us make a difference.”
So grab your boots and help Alzheimer Scotland make sure no-one faces dementia alone.
For more information about the walk, visit www.memorywalksscotland.org.