Davina McCall and her parents have spoken together about her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease for the first time ahead of a charity walk.
The Long Lost Family presenter, her father Andrew McCall and his wife Gaby will join the Alzheimer’s Society for their Memory Walk, a fundraising event taking place at venues across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this autumn.
Speaking about her dad’s diagnosis with her family, McCall said: “My dad has always been my rock – he’s way smarter than me, funnier, stronger, I’ve always slightly hero-worshipped him.”
She added: “I have grieved the loss of my old dad, but we are forging a new relationship, a different one – one where perhaps he might need me more.
“Our dynamic has changed, but he’s still my dad.
“My dad is very charming, everyone he meets falls in love with him – that’s one thing that hasn’t changed.
“He still gives the best hugs and my kids adore him. Since he’s had Alzheimer’s, he has become calmer and kids respond very well to that.
“The person I do worry about is my mum.
“It’s a lot, watching the man you love struggle and I know it’s tiring for her. Each day is a blessing.
“We as a family are learning to adapt fast. Each step we discuss together.”
Andrew spoke about his diagnosis for the first time.
He said: “My family noticed the signs before I did – they tell me that occasional memory lapses associated with age became more frequent and more short-term.
“Then I began searching for words, everyday words that would normally have been easy to retrieve from my memory.
“That’s when I realised that this was more than just the natural decline in memory.
“I am blessed with a strong streak of optimism and there is no doubt that it has helped me come to terms with the diagnosis.
“I’m doing what I am told to do by the professionals: no more alcohol, plenty of exercise, plenty of reading and challenging my brain to keep things working as much as possible.”
Gaby added: “As anyone knows, if you have lived with someone for many years – 43 in our case – you will notice the subtlest of changes in their behaviour and personality.
“First, I noticed Andrew would repeat a story he had told only 15 minutes earlier and yet he had no recollection of the first occasion.
“Then I noticed he could not recall events that happened in the past few days. Eventually, he started struggling to find the words he wanted to say and to find everyday items around our home.
“Both our daughters, Davina and Milly, noticed a change… don’t dismiss the early signs and wait until it develops to a more advanced stage.”
McCall will join the charity for their Brighton Memory Walk, one of 34 events that include the annual campaign’s first-ever night walks in London, Liverpool and Cardiff.
The walks will raise money to improve care and fund research for people affected by dementia.
:: For more information go to www.memorywalk.org.uk.
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