A WIFE whose late husband suffered from Alzheimer’s has taken on a role at a national charity to try and raise awareness of the disease.
Ann Reid, who lives in Sovereign Harbour, has linked up with the Alzheimer’s Society to show people the devastating effects of the dementia by talking openly about her experiences.
And she hopes lifting the lid on her last few years with her beloved partner Jim will encourage people to sign up for the charity’s Sussex fundraiser, set to take place in nearby Brighton on September 22.
Speaking this week, Ann said, “We moved to Eastbourne almost 12 years go and I think he was starting to develop problems then.
“He was a keen golfer and would play regularly but by the time he came back he would not remember who he had played with.
“He also used to get lost in Eastbourne and get confused.
“Then one day in 2002 we were going to my son’s birthday and Jim kept asking where we were going and why.
“That was when it hit me what was wrong. I just knew what was happening. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003.
From that day until his sudden death on June 24, 2008, Ann cared for her husband and began learning first hand the ways in which the disease can impact on not only the life of the person with the condition, but also those close to them.
“We had been together 35 years and towards the end it was terrible,” she said.
“It is such an awful disease which can strip away a person’s dignity.
“It was very, very difficult.
“Aside from the emotional side of seeing someone you love suffer in such a way it was also hard to cope.
“I did not know what I was doing and the various agencies which you need for support are not joined up enough.
“One time Jim went into hospital after suffering from two strokes. He was in there for four weeks and when he came out eight weeks went by without anyone contacting us to offer support.
“It was then I found the Alzheimer’s Society.
“They are fantastic, fantastic people. I cannot fault them.
“They helped me a lot which is why I want to do what I can to help them now.”
Ann, whose mother also suffered from Alzheimer’s and lives in a local nursing home, has already raised more than £1,000 by jumping out of a plane last year and is currently trying to convince as many as possible to sign up for a sponsored walk in Brighton.
The Memory Walk, as it is called, takes place later this month and organisers are confident of attracting people from all over the county.
“I won’t be doing it this year,” explained Ann, “because I have a bad shoulder and wouldn’t be able to take part, but it is something people should join in with.
“More and more are finding they know someone with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia and the charity needs all the support it can get.”
For more information, or to sign up, visit www.memorywalk.org.uk/brighton or to find out more about Ann’s experiences and her work go to www.annreid.co.uk.