Stuart Lambie

He's always my Dad, no matter what memories Alzheimer's has stolen from him

Fundraising for Alzheimer's Research UK
raised of £5,000 target
by 194 supporters
Donations cannot currently be made to this page
Event: London Marathon 2021, on 3 October 2021
We stand for everyone affected by dementia to find a cure


Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page in support of Alzheimer’s Research UK. 

Sadly, on the afternoon of April 18 2020, aged 94, Dad finally lost his long fight with Alzheimer’s Disease. He passed away peacefully, with my mum, his best friend for 69 years, by his side. We will all remember Dad as a perfect gentleman, a devoted husband, a wonderful caring father and a perfect role model for me, my sister and all his grandchildren. Some of his happiest moments in his final months were on days where his three great grandchildren visited him in the Erskine Home for Ex Service Men and Women. We cannot praise the staff at Erskine highly enough for the loving environment they created for Dad in the time he spent in their care. 

What follows was written while Dad was still alive but my reasons for fundraising still remain - finding treatments and cures to stop dementia in its tracks

Some of you will already know about my reasons for raising money for this charity since March 2018. You might know something about my Dad’s and family's experiences with Alzheimer's disease. However, I've updated our story, because a lot has happened in the past 12 months.

To explain why its so important to me that I keep on trying to raise money to fund research into treatments and cures for future generations,  I want to share with you how difficult things become for the sufferer, but also for their closest loved ones as this terrible disease progresses. Of course symptoms also vary from person to person but these are our experiences. 

As I have explained before, when we started to notice his memory was failing, it was initially a battle to get Dad to go and see his GP. Nevertheless we eventually succeeded and he was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease towards the end of 2011. The way Dad received this news was terrible....the specialist who broke the diagnosis to him was extremely direct and not particularly empathetic - "Well Mr Lambie, you have Alzheimer's disease" - was how he was told, blunt as you like, with no preamble or preparation. Of course, its perhaps difficult to break this dreadful news in a caring and gentle way but the directness of this approach and the effect it had on Dad meant that he never really came to terms with his diagnosis. He  certainly NEVER wanted to enter into any discussion about the fact that he was now classified as having a dementia illness.

Over the years since 2011, Dad's condition has inevitably deteriorated, initially at a slow pace, latterly much more quickly. At first his short term memories started to disappear, - things which had happened or been said minutes before were forgotten, leading to repeated questions about the same thing. Next came the loss of any ability to make the simplest of choices and decisions. A restaurant menu became the most confusing and baffling piece of literature! Socialising in a group of people was impossible, Dad withdrew into his own world. He also developed a compulsive need to check things and would get very frustrated if he was prevented from doing so, particularly at bedtime - "are the lights off",  "is the fire switched off"?  His walking gradually became more unsteady - shuffling a bit instead of lifting his feet and this led to a few trips and falls as a result.

As time went by Dad also became very uncooperative, like a stubborn child who would refuse to follow the simplest request, apparently just for the devilment of it. In particular he would often refuse to do what Mum asked him. On more than one occasion, having driven him to Church in the car, he would then refuse her request for him to get out, only complying when she fetched one of the other Church members. This kind of refusal to follow any instructions happened pretty much on a daily basis, often at bedtime, and caused a huge amount of emotional upset. 

In more recent times, over the past two years, speech became a problem. Dad could no longer verbalize what he was thinking. The words just would not come out and the stream of mumbled words and phrases which tumbled out was impossible to understand. After a while he pretty much stopped talking at all and for Mum, the house became a silent place. This was really tough for her, spending all day, every day caring for Dad, apart from some afternoon respite a couple of times a week and the brief visit from carers in the morning and evening. Very quickly her partner of more than 60 years could no longer ask a question, answer a question or have any kind of conversation. Like a small child he was now unable to tell anyone what he was feeling, what he wanted or how he felt.......about anything.

By late 2018, the situation was deteriorating more quickly. Like many Alzheimer's sufferers in the latter stages, Dad's behaviour could sometimes become aggressive without any warning, cursing and swearing at Mum; at times he could be physically aggressive. It's difficult to know if this was due to frustration and of course it's impossible for us to really understand what he was experiencing. What we knew for certain was that this was not the man we had known - this was not my Dad who, throughout his life previously was the most polite and lovely man. I had never even heard my Dad swear before he was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease! This illness had stolen my Dad.

Around the same time, Dad's toilet habits started to become erratic and from time to time he was incontinent, often in the middle of the night. This meant that Mum would seldom sleep deeply, lying in a light sleep or not sleeping at all, in case she had to be there to help him when he needed to use the bathroom. Most nights mum was up at least once in the middle of the night, sometimes having to clean and change Dad before getting back to bed. This kind of stress and irregular sleep is exhausting for most people but for an 85 year old lady, this situation, happening continually over a period of many months is simply not healthy.

It was at this stage in early 2019 that Mum, my sister and I all agreed that the time had come to take the very difficult decision to start the process of finding a permanent home for Dad where he could receive the round the clock, professional care that he now so badly needed. Just as importantly it was time for Mum to be able step back and rest, reclaim her own life and start to try and enjoy some of its pleasures again, secure in the knowledge that Dad was being well taken care of.

The process of getting a relative into permanent care and putting in place the local authority funding to help financially, is a long and frustrating one. Social Services assessments have to be done, reports have to be written, consultations have to happen and this all takes months. Months during which Dad's situation and the physical and emotional stress on Mum was simply increasing week by week. 

Finally about 8 months after starting the process Dad, now aged 93, was awarded the necessary funding to enable us to place him in specialist permanent dementia care. Having served in the Royal Navy during World War 2, Dad was eligible to be cared for in the Erskine Home for Military Veterans in Bishopton, Scotland. This is now his permanent home. He has settled in well and seems happy there. For mum, there is the relief of being free from the physical and emotional stresses of being dad's permanent carer. But on the other hand it will take time to emotionally adjust to the fact that her life partner is no longer at home.  

From 2011 until September 2019 my Mum, now aged 85 has been Dad's full time carer. This has been the most emotionally and physically demanding job you can imagine and every carer of an advanced stage Alzheimer's sufferer will have this experience. It is dreadful. No one should have to do this. This is why I am determined to continue raising money - to help science find treatments and cures, so that no one has to endure this dreadful illness and so that loved ones, husbands, wives, sons and daughters do not have to watch the person they love gradually disappear and become an unrecognisable shell of who they once were. 

For my part, I run to raise money. Here’s how it works:

I do the running......... 🏃🏻‍♂️💨💨💨

You can donate..........(hopefully)! 😀

In 2018 I ran my first three 10Km races and around 360 km in total. 

In 2019 I have run in 4 half Marathon races and by the end of the year I will have run 1000 miles (1600 km).

In 2020, and now as a 60 year old, I have set myself my biggest challenge so far - to run a Marathon, the London Marathon, one of the world's biggest - 26 miles or 42.2 kms -  to raise AT LEAST £2000 for Alzheimer's Research UK.

As I have done before, I want to finish this story with a few more words about Dad. Often when we meet someone who is old or suffering from a disease like dementia, we only see their “age” or their symptoms and we forget about the rich life they will have led. 

Dad left school and went straight to work for British Rail in a local station ticket office. Then, during the final years of World War Two, he served in the Royal Navy on minesweepers and after the War worked again for British Rail, this time as a manager in the Marketing Department in Glasgow. He loved all kinds of ballroom dancing and cut a sharp figure on the dance floor. Having met my mum at ”the dancing” they were married
in 1954. Later he would set up his own building company with a partner, where he and mum worked immensely hard to  eventually be able to buy a house in the mid 1970’s. 

Earlier, during the late 1940's and early 1950’s dad played amateur football at a high level, scoring goals and winning in Scottish Amateur Cup Finals at Hampden Park. Like his youngest grandson Jamie Lambie, he was a runner, still jogging in the local park well into his 70’s. On top of all of this, together with mum he raised my sister Anne and I, enabling both of us to succeed on our chosen paths. 

Thanks for reading this far. If you can donate anything at all – large of small – that would be fantastic. I know it’s a cliché, but it all adds up and will make a difference.

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About the charity

Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading dementia research charity. We’re striving for a cure, by revolutionising the way we treat, diagnose and prevent dementia.

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