Alison Mackenzie from Alford, Aberdeenshire, lost her mum to dementia in 2009 and has put in place plans to leave a lasting legacy for dementia by arranging to leave a gift in her Will, in honour of her mum.
The now part-time Women’s Aid charity worker with a passion for the outdoors, took steps to leave a gift in her Will to Alzheimer Scotland after receiving support not just for her mum but also for the family. Diagnosed with vascular dementia at age 70, Alison’s mum remained at home for over 12 years before moving into a care home where she passed away aged 84.
Alison said: “Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia when she was 70, and prior to that she had heart problems in her late 60s. Dad was her main carer, but, alongside my brothers and their families, I helped out when I could and found that the information and support from Alzheimer Scotland’s local Dementia Resource Centre in Aberdeen was hugely helpful.
“We were lucky in part as mum was still mum in terms of her personality for most of those 14 years and was happy in herself. There were difficult times, of course, especially in the last two years of her life, but lots of fun times and happy memories too. Mum was 40 when I was born. With three grown up brothers already, I remained very close to mum throughout her life. Growing up she was always at home and there for me through the ups and downs. Even when I married, mum and I remained close, spending lots of times together when my husband often worked away from home.
“As a family, we started to realise that mum wasn’t herself and forgetting some things; we knew something wasn’t quite right. After her eventual diagnosis we quickly found lots of support from different agencies, including the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Resource Centre, and our local authority was really helpful in terms of the support we received through day care. Mum would take part in reminiscence activities as well as being involved in a singing group, which she loved. We took part in carer groups for information and emotional support which became invaluable at different stages of the illness. In those early days we had lots of lovely times together, often going away on holiday with the family for long weekends and short breaks in Scotland. Mum really loved to get out and about to visit places she loved, such as Grantown-on-Spey and Ballater.
“It was when we linked in with Alzheimer Scotland that I really started to take notice of the charity and what they provided for mum and more so what they offered us as carers. Dad and I attended carer support groups where we had the chance to talk to others and take part in activities. The support and information we received from Alzheimer Scotland was crucial to mum’s care and also to my dad as her main carer for most of the 14 years. I decided that I wanted to do what I could to help the charity continue with its work. My legacy may not fully support research to help find a cure, but I hope that by leaving a gift in my Will, it will help support future families and support Alzheimer Scotland and their commitments to research for a better future.”
Vanessa Rhazali, Head of Central Fundraising from Alzheimer Scotland, said: “With over 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and this number on the rise, we are dedicated to supporting people living with dementia, their carers and families, in as many new and innovative ways as we can.
“Legacy giving is hugely important to the future of Alzheimer Scotland’s work. We know that more people than ever - after they’ve provided for their loved ones in their Will – are choosing to include a gift to a cause close to their heart. Our new campaign aims to harness this by highlighting where legacies to Alzheimer Scotland will be invested. Large or small, together they will help ensure that we can continue to support families across Scotland with a diagnosis of dementia throughout their journey.
“Its people like Alison and her emotional story that are helping us to make a big impact on the lives of others. The greatest legacy you can leave future generations is through a gift in your Will to Alzheimer Scotland. We want to help make Scotland the best place in the world to invest in research. And until then, we continue to provide compassion, care and local support to make sure nobody faces dementia alone.”
A gift in your Will means that everyone, at any stage of their dementia journey, can receive 24-hour information and emotional support through Alzheimer Scotland’s Freephone Helpline as well as finding a warm welcome and expert advice across a growing network of local Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Resource Centres. Legacies also help to ensure that the voices of people living with dementia are being heard, as well as making Scotland the best place in the world to invest in ground-breaking dementia research.
Alzheimer Scotland’s Legacy team are on hand to help discuss in confidence how your legacy can help the future of dementia support and research in Scotland. Visit www.alzscot.org/legacy for more information or email [email protected], Tel: 0131 243 1453.