A WHARFEDALE couple will be thinking of their parents when they take part in a fundraising Memory Walk next week.
Sandra and Andrew Auty, from Burley-in-Wharfedale, will join other supporters of the Alzheimer's Society when they embark on the Leeds Memory Walk at Roundhay Park on Saturday, September 6.
Sandra’s mum, Pauline Bland, died in 2007 aged 71 after living with undiagnosed dementia for more than 15 years. Andrew, meanwhile, is walking for his father Donald, who died last November after being diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012.
Sandra, 49, said: "My mum had started showing signs of dementia when she was in her late fifties but in those days it was put down to her having a bad memory rather than anything more serious.
"She was still working and it was not until she had a stroke in her mid-sixties that the symptoms became worse, but she was never formally diagnosed.
"Andrew’s dad started to show signs of confusion in 2010 whilst we were all living together and he was formally diagnosed with vascular dementia two years later.
"The condition steadily deteriorated and became very difficult to manage as both Andrew and I were working and trying to care for him at the same time.
"With the help of our GP and social services, we started to have home care to support us. We had carers coming in four times a day with intermittent periods of full time respite care for Donald at a local care home."
She added that finding the right advice and seeking help from charities like the Alzheimer's Society was invaluable.
She said: "People don’t realise how difficult it can be to live with the condition, both for the person affected and the family supporting that person.
"Finding the right information and support can be a minefield and it is very stressful trying to make the right decisions regarding the care of a loved one with dementia."
The Memory Walk is the charity's flagship fundraising event and sees walks taking place across the UK throughout the autumn to raise money for people affected by dementia and their carers.
Andrew, 53, said: "We organised our own walk last year and had great support from my colleagues at BT as well as family and friends in our local community.
"When you start to tell people why you are walking, they are keen to help out as so many people have personal experience of dementia."
Participants in the walks can choose between a shorter, 2 kilometre route or a more challenging, 10 kilometre trek.
Andrew, Sandra and the other walkers next weekend can also look forward to some live music, cakes and refreshments, and live music after they cross the finishing line.
To register for a walk or find out more visit http://www.memorywalk.org.uk/leeds .
The Autys can be sponored at justgiving.com/Sandra-Auty1 .