There are more than 1000 different types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s being just one of them.
Here in Fife, 7000 people are currently being supported on their dementia journey by the charity Alzheimer Scotland.
But there are likely many more families who are muddling through on their own, waiting for a diagnosis.
It is expected that 20,000 people in Scotland will be diagnosed with the condition every year until 2020.
So it is clear Alzheimer Scotland needs ever more support to ensure no-one faces dementia alone.
On Sunday, Fifers will be given a chance to support the charity when the Fife Memory Walk is staged at Lochore Meadows Country Park in Lochgelly.
In charge of organising that walk is Sally Davidson, the charity’s community fundraiser for Fife, Edinburgh, the Lothians and Borders. Although she has only been in post three months, Sally has already been inspired by the many families she has met in that time.
She said: “I’ve worked for many years as a community fundraiser and have never volunteered with the charity I’ve worked for before – it always felt too much like a busman’s holiday.
“But I’ve volunteered for Alzheimer Scotland already and I’ve only been in post three months!
“The people I’ve met have been incredible and the charity seems to resonate with so many people.
“I’m driving about in an Alzheimer Scotland van just now and people have been tooting and waving at me.
“There seems to be an incredible affection for the charity, probably because so many families have been affected by dementia.
“I just did the Jedburgh walk at the weekend and the atmosphere was incredible.
“I’ve also helped out at walks in Dundee and East Dunbartonshire. We all got soaking wet in Milngavie but it didn’t dampen the spirits.
“While I hope the weather is better on Sunday, I’m certain the Fife walk will be equally good.
“Memory walks bring a community of people together for a cause close to their hearts – Fifers already have fantastic community spirit so I’m sure it wil be a brilliant day.”
Michelle Simpson is among the 79 people who have pre-registered for the Fife Memory Walk.
The 33-year-old lettings manager will be walking with her sons Oliver (8) and Harry (2) in memory of her gran, who sadly died recently.
She said: “I am totally heartbroken about losing my gran to dementia.
“She has always been my best friend and, although devastating to lose other family members to the illness, I have found my gran’s experiences particularly difficult over the past few years.
“I took part in the memory walk last year with my two boys.
“This year we’ll be walking again in loving memory of my gran, grandad and great uncle.
“It is vitally important to raise awareness and funds.
“Dementia isn’t just about forgetting things and getting older. It’s a devastating and serious illness but, sadly, it isn’t always seen as such.
“Undoubtedly, this year’s walk will have special poignance for me.
“I had a wee tear in my eye last year during the walk and this year it will be even more emotional after losing my gran in the weeks leading up to the walk.”
Many other people will be walking in memory of loved ones at Sunday’s event.
And hearing their stories is a privilege for Sally, who often helps fill out the cards walkers wear with pride along the route.
She explained: “Walkers are given cards to wear on their tops.
“People put photographs of their loved ones on the cards or say who they are walking for – their amazing gran or their dad who would have been 65 that day.
“Hearing people’s stories is always very emotional but it’s also a great privilege.
“It helps to bring people together too – there’s a real community spirit and people enjoy walking and talking along the route, sharing their experiences.”
There will be a party atmosphere too thanks to the free face painter and balloon modeller for wee ones.
Sally added: “They are really talented and get into the spirit of the event – in Jedburgh one man got hair painted onto his bald spot!
“We’ll also have music playing and some stalls.”
There’s still time to take part
Whether you stride, stroll or toddle, the Memory Walk is perfect for all ages and abilities.
The Fife 5K event takes place at Lochore Meadows Country Park, Lochgelly, on Sunday (September 16).
Registration opens by the visitor centre at noon, with the walk kicking off at 1pm.
While online registration is now closed, registration is available on the day priced £15 for adults, £5 for those aged 12 to 16 and free for under 12s.
The route is wheelchair, buggy and dog-friendly, so there’s no reason why the entire family can’t take part.
There are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and it is now estimated that 20,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition every year by 2020. Henry Simmons, Alzheimer Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Our Memory Walks are a great way for people in Scotland to come together to help us raise awareness about dementia and vital funds to support people living with the condition in our local communities.
“Every penny raised will go towards our goal – making sure that no-one faces dementia alone.
“Our local resource hubs across Scotland are committed to providing the best possible care, support and information for everyone living with dementia.
“They also work to ensure people with dementia and their carers are recognised and valued in their local communities.
“Every step walkers take on Sunday at Lochore will help us make a difference.”
So grab your boots and help Alzheimer Scotland make sure no-one faces dementia alone.
For more information about the Fife event, visit www.memorywalksscotland.org.