I was with Michael for 42 years and since he passed away there has been a hole in my life. It was great to be able to take part in this challenge in memory of him
Lynda’s husband, Michael, was first diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2005 after suffering with heart problems since 1990.
“Michael was diagnosed by a doctor who did some tests and I looked at him blankly and asked, ‘what do we do?’ There was no information and so I had to do all my own research. It was a nightmare.
“Neither of us had any idea what we were facing, and we were quite naïve. But of course, dementia creeps up on you slowly. I didn’t know at the beginning just what a struggle it was going to be. Even a few telephone numbers or information leaflets would have been so useful.”
As Michael’s dementia progressed, Lynda became increasingly worried about his safety and called the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline for some support and advice.
“I was worried for Michael’s safety as he would often try and leave the house in the middle of the night. He was becoming a danger to himself, but the Admiral Nurse offered me some helpful advice. I wish I had called the Helpline sooner.”
Lynda cared for Michael for fifteen years before he sadly passed away in 2019. There were no Admiral Nurses in the area where Lynda lived and so she decided to take on the Walk 30 challenge to fundraise for Dementia UK.
“I would have given anything to have had an Admiral Nurse, they are vital. I took part in the Walk 30 challenge so that other families facing dementia can have a slightly easier journey than mine.”
Going the extra mile
Lynda took part in the Walk 30 Challenge in September 2020. At this time, Lynda wasn’t seeing any friends or family due to the Covid-19 pandemic and so the challenge gave her some much-needed time outdoors.
“Not seeing anybody or having any interaction was difficult and so the Walk 30 challenge came up at the right time for me. Being part of the challenge helped me to get out for a walk every day, even on the days when I didn’t feel like it.”
Lynda decided to go the extra mile and increased her target distance to 84 miles, in memory of Michael.
“My husband died on 28th December 2019 aged 84 and so I thought I would walk 84 miles instead of 30. That was more of a challenge for me and felt more significant.”
Lynda is fortunate enough to live very close to the beach in Worthing and was able to explore her local area.
“I went on walks that I don’t normally go on which I loved. The beach is at the end of my road, and it was great to explore places I hadn’t been before.”
Every step counts
Lynda was able to exceed 30 miles, but she encourages future participants to take things at their own pace.
“My advice is do not worry too much about how far you are able to walk. Everyone has their own challenges, and every step is valuable. Just do the best you can.”
Lynda suggests participants wear their Dementia UK t-shirts when out walking to help spread awareness of the charity.
“There is real value in going out walking and just talking to people and telling them about your challenge. It is a great conversation starter and a wonderful way to meet new people.”
I could never walk in his shoes, but I would walk in his memory
Lynda continues to support Dementia UK, doing what she can to ensure families do not have to face dementia alone.
“I can talk about dementia all day, every day, it is so important to me. I was with Michael for 42 years and since he passed away there has been a hole in my life. It was great to be able to take part in this challenge in memory of him.
“I always said it didn’t matter how many years I looked after Michael, I could never walk in his shoes, but I could walk in his memory. The 84 miles was for him.”