West Lothian woman to host ladies’ day event in memory of mum

20 February 2018

A West Lothian woman is organising a ladies’ day event in Edinburgh to raise money for pioneering dementia research in honour of her mum who died with Alzheimer’s disease aged 65.

Jennifer Littlejohn, from East Calder, is putting on a day of prosecco, afternoon tea, shopping and live music at The Hub in Castlehill, Edinburgh, on Sunday 18 March to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The 35-year-old, who works as a PA, was inspired to support the charity in memory of her mum, Celia, who died in July last year.

She said:

“Before my mum was diagnosed, I was not really aware Alzheimer’s could hit someone at such a young age. It was horrific. It’s so unfair as she still had so much of her life ahead of her.

“I want to raise money for research so that other families won’t have to go through what we’ve been through.”

Celia was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease aged 59 in 2012, not long after her mum passed away, also with dementia.

Jennifer Littlejohn with her mum Celia

Although often thought of as a disease of older people, around four per cent of people with Alzheimer’s are under 65.

As well as memory problems and confusion, Celia’s most notable symptom was her complete loss of speech.

Jennifer said:

“Granny was in her 80s and had had dementia for a long time. She coped quite well with it and the experience was very different from my mum. She kept repeating herself, but she was still her normal self. Eventually she fell ill with pneumonia and passed away in December 2011.

“I think my mum had early symptoms at that time. She was eventually diagnosed aged 59 in early 2012.

“The biggest thing with my mum seemed to be communication problems. In the very early stages, she’d say the wrong words or would mumble. It steadily got worse and quite quickly she became completely silent. It was really tough to witness as she was always really articulate and would correct us when we said things wrong.

“It was hard to know for sure as she couldn’t speak, but I like to think she knew who we were up until near the end because you could still get a reaction from her. If you went into her room she would smile and she would hold your hand and would grip it really tight.”

Kyle Lockhart, Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Regional Fundraising Officer for Scotland, said:

“There are around 70,000 people with dementia in the Scotland and Jennifer’s story shows the devastating effect dementia can have on a family.

“The vital funds raised from Jennifer’s event will power world-class dementia research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

Tickets for the event cost £25 per person, including afternoon tea. For more information or to book tickets contact [email protected]

The event will be Jennifer’s second big fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Last year she took part in the charity’s Running Down Dementia challenge to run 100km over the summer. She raised more than £2,000.

Running Down Dementia will relaunch for a third year this spring. Anyone interested in taking part can pre-register at www.runningdowndementia.org

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org