Leicestershire woman takes on seven-day volcano trek for dementia research

28 March 2018

A woman from Earl Shilton is taking on the ultimate challenge to raise funds for dementia research by trekking across five active volcanoes – and all in honour of her mum, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Elaine Barrett

Elaine Barrett

When Elaine Barrett’s mum Jeannette was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Elaine was heartbroken to discover that there are no treatments that can slow or prevent the development of the disease.

After hearing about the trek at her local parkrun, Elaine saw this as her opportunity to help a cause that is close to her heart. She registered on the same day, and has not looked back since, despite a gruelling training routine to help her prepare for the seven day-long trek.

When Elaine’s mum started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it was initially put down to depression.

She said:

“When my dad died a few years ago, doctors kept telling us that she was depressed. But I was spending more and more time with her, and I could see that it was more than that.

“One day, she went outside with the brush and started trying to brush the pebble dash off the wall on the house. She was saying, ‘I’ve just got to get this off the wall’. That was the moment I knew it was more than just forgetfulness.”

Elaine with her mum Jeannette

Elaine with her mum Jeannette

This eventually led to a diagnosis in 2012, and since then her condition has declined, leading to significant memory issues.

“The hardest thing about it is that there are times when I just want my mum, but I can’t have that relationship with her anymore. There was one point when my husband was in hospital a few years ago, and I remember sitting in the car in the hospital car park, and thinking, ‘I just want my mum’.

“She’s still there of course, and she still is my mum, but it’s not the same. She still knows who I am, but she isn’t the person that she was. When I really need her the most, when I really want to rely on her because I’m going through something difficult, I just end up feeling like a child again.

“Luckily for mum, she isn’t always aware of what she’s going through. I was minding her recently and was talking about dementia, and she said, ‘it’s a great thing that I haven’t got anything like that’. But then there are other times when she gets really distressed.”

Elaine is a keen runner and spends a lot of time walking her dog in Leicestershire, however that isn’t taking away from the nerves about her upcoming trek.

She will set off to Guatemala along with others in April to spend seven days trekking across five active volcanoes.

“Preparing for the trek has been a great thing for me. It’s given me a goal to work towards, and because I’m doing it for my mum, I’ve really been spurred on to make this a success.”

You can visit Elaine’s fundraising page and donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/elainevolcano

Matt Clarke, Regional Fundraising Officer for the East Midlands at Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“We are so proud of Elaine for taking on this incredible challenge in honour of her mum.

“There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and it is now the leading cause of death. By 2025, we expect that there will be over 1 million living with the condition without any new treatments.

“Our vision is a world that is free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia, and this can only be achieved through research.”