MY Nana, Margaret O’Riordan, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago. She was and is the most amazing woman, such a character with a fabulous sense of humour.
I’m a Transition Year student from Ballyburden in Co, Cork and this year I’m doing a charity skydive for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland in recognition of their work.
I remember my Nana’s house on Gardiner’s Hill up by St Luke’s Cross was a very happy place. It was a big old house that she referred to as ‘the tumble down house’.
Visits to Nana’s were a highlight of the week. She’d always have a lovely treat ready for you as she loved to bake, as well as tea and chat.
My Nana was always a socialite. It would take us a good while to stroll down the road for a visit to the shop near her house in St Luke’s. My Nana could never resist stopping for a ‘quick’ chat as she greeted the locals going about their business. They were always delighted to see my Nana as well, sure who wouldn’t be?
She was just one of those people that lit up the room when she walked in and made you feel instantly at ease and welcomed. Nana is certainly one of a kind.
I didn’t really know what it meant when I was first told that my Nana was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.I didn’t know what Alzheimer’s was and what kind of effect it would have on my Nana.
In the early days, it was just the little things like my Nana repeating a story or forgetting a word, but I wouldn’t have taken any notice.
My Nana was unfortunate in how her deterioration from the disease worsened quite rapidly. The effects became more noticeable when she was repeating a story a number of times in the one conversation.
She couldn’t always remember our names and recognise who we were. I found this aspect of the disease very upsetting as I always had a very close relationship with my Nana and suddenly it appeared she didn’t know who I was anymore.
I could see that it was very difficult for my dad and his siblings to see the effects of this horrible disease on their mother. I could see that it was extremely difficult for my grandad Tim, who has been married to my Nana for over 50 years.
I decided to fundraise for the charity skydive when my Nana was diagnosed with Covid-19 this year. We as a family were very worried as she was in the high risk category. I couldn’t go and visit her and I felt very frustrated. My Nana had been through a tough enough time in the past few years without this happening on top of it. Thankfully, she managed to fight the virus and come out the other side of it.
This event was what inspired me to take action and do my part to help people living with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.
I did a bit of research and I found the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland. This is a charity dedicated to providing dementia specific supports and advocating for the rights of people living with dementia and their carers.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and it currently affects over 55,000 people in Ireland today with an additional 4,000 diagnoses every year. Their vision is to create an Ireland where people on the very difficult journey of dementia are valued and supported.
With the tough year that we have witnessed, I needed to do something positive, so I decided to do a fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland. I wanted to do something kind of eye-catching that would capture the attention of potential donors. I discovered the Irish Parachute Club in County Offaly do charity skydives. So I contacted the Irish Parachute Club to get more information and I contacted the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland to get permission to fundraise for them.
I set up a GoFundMe page with the name ‘Taking a Leap for Alzheimer’s’. Our original target was €1,000, which we reached in under 24 hours! Less than a month from launching we are now at well over €6,000!
I was absolutely over the moon with the tremendous support and generosity that every donor has shown in these extremely difficult times. I love how, amidst all of the doom and gloom of 2020, this has been one little beacon of positivity.
To make a donation, go to GoFundMe.com and search ‘Taking a Leap for Alzheimer’s’. Or search the following link: https://gf.me/u/y5agtt
All donations will help people living with Alzheimer’s in Ireland and their carers/loved ones.
National Helpline: 1800 341 341