Both the charities I'm fundraising for are close to my heart. One of them, Alzheimer Scotland, I've chosen for particularly personal reasons.
To see dementia take hold of someone you love is horrific.
To see loving, engaged, active, funny, understanding, generous people gradually robbed of their vitality, their spark, their ability to function is heartbreaking.
To see the anguish of relatives who have to come to terms with this decline in loved ones while wrestling with the myriad issues surrounding care is agonising.
There are two losses. There is death, funerals and mourning. Before that there is the loss of the person you knew, the loss of the chance to talk, share, laugh and cry with people who had always been there for you.
Families across Scotland face this trial everyday.
And this remains an illness without a cure.
Here's some information:
- Dementia is an illness which affects the brain, causing a progressive loss of mental powers.
- It is the fourth biggest killer for women in Scotland and the ninth for men.
- Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementias are the most common forms of the illness, but there are many other conditions which can also cause dementia.
- Between 58,000 and 65,000 Scots have dementia and this number is increasing as people live longer.
- By 2031, more than 100,000 people in Scotland will have dementia.
- Almost everyone knows someone who is affected - it may be a relative, friend, neighbour or workmate who has the illness or who is caring for someone.
- People with dementia gradually lose their memory and their understanding. They become confused and often frustrated as they cannot do things they used to do. Bit by bit, they become less able to look after themselves and have to rely on others to help. Eventually, even dressing, eating or going to the toilet may become impossible without help.
Alzheimer Scotland provide invaluable support to both sufferers and carers:
- Provide practical services such as day care and home support, helping people with dementia retain their skills for as long as possible and giving carers a break from caring
- Run support groups for carers and people recently diagnosed with dementia
- Speak out for the rights and concerns of people with dementia and their carers
- Support groups of people with dementia and carers to speak out for themselves
This is a common illness. But sufferers and their loved ones often feel alone. Alzheimer Scotland offers reassurance, understanding and advice.
I'm proud to be helping that work in a small, small way.
There are also footballing reasons for my choice of Alzheimer Scotland.
One of the most moving accounts of dementia that I've read recently is in Tony Smith's account of the last years of his dad Gordon.
That's Gordon Smith of Hibs, Hearts and Dundee. The record breaking superstar of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. This illness doesn't respect genius, it cuts down even our sporting giants.
And Alzheimer Scotland is involved in a unique partnership with the Scottish Football Museum.
Their Football Reminiscence Project brings volunteers together with football fans with dementia. The volunteers talk fitba' with the fans and stimulate memories using our frustrating, beguiling game.
Just another example, amid all the nonsense that goes on, of how football does have a real power to achieve great things.
Donate to the Scottish Football Blog Blogathon, 19 November 2011