A DEVOTED daughter-in-law has told of the devastating toll dementia has taken on her family as she prepares to embark on a fundraising walk.
Michaela McQuade thought nothing of uprooting her family and moving back to Oxford from their home in Northampton when mother-in-law Joyce Dunn was diagnosed.
Now she is going even further to help, by raising money in the Oxford Memory Walk next month.
Two years ago Ms McQuade, 44, came to Oxford with her partner Robert Dunn, 39, their six-year-old son Charlie and her three daughters Alannah, 21 Ciann, 11 and Fallon, 10.
They moved into Mr Dunn’s childhood home in Iffley Turn with his father Tony, 73, after Mrs Dunn, 71, above, was moved into Iffley Residential and Nursing Home.
Ms McQuade said: “The whole world got turned upside down for everybody, but family is all about mucking in and looking after each other. I think it was a bit of a shock for Tony. He went from this nice quiet home to having this massive family with him.”
She is now raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society walk – which has routes of 2km or 10km – at Oxford University Parks on Sunday, September 14.
Ms McQuade said: “I’ve done a lot of runs in memory of people – such as the Race for Life – but I wanted to do something close to home. We need to do more for the living.
“It’s such a debilitating disease, you don’t even know you’re sick.”
Mrs Dunn is suspected to have lived with vascular dementia for a decade, but was only diagnosed and moved to the nursing home two years ago after a rapid decline in health.
Ms McQuade said: “She didn’t sleep and we had to take all of the mirrors out of the house because she didn’t recognise herself.
“She almost got Robert arrested because she forgot who he was and thought he was mugging her.
“It’s very sad for the children. They go to visit and she doesn’t know who they are.”
Mrs Dunn was a well-known figure in Oxfordshire’s dog show circles, but Ms McQuade said her former colleagues would not recognise her now. She said: “She was such a gentle and sweet lady, she used to judge at Crufts and breed dogs.
“Anyone that knew her now wouldn’t believe it.
“It’s very, very upsetting. Alzheimer’s Society were so good to us. They helped us get her diagnosed and gave us lots of information.
“She got so poorly so quickly. We just didn’t know what to do.
“They are absolutely priceless.”
To sponsor Ms McQuade, visit justgiving.com/Michaela-MCQUADE1. For information about the walk, visit memorywalk.org.uk/oxford
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