Copthorne dementia befriender moved to run half marathon

Ali Howell from Copthorne has pledged to raise �500 for Alzheimer's Research UK after befriending Janie, 88, just over a year ago - picture submitted
Ali Howell from Copthorne has pledged to raise �500 for Alzheimer's Research UK after befriending Janie, 88, just over a year ago - picture submitted
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An office manager from Copthorne is running a half marathon to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK after befriending a lady with dementia.

Ali Howell has pledged to raise £500 after becoming friends with Janie, 88, just over a year ago.

Janie has been living with vascular dementia for nearly three years and the pair live just along the road from one another in Copthorne.

They meet every Friday when Ali, who is in her early 50s, helps Janie to cope with dementia by giving her a regular routine.

Ali, a keen runner, explained her motivation for taking part in the Cambridge Half Marathon. She said: “Befriending Janie has really opened my eyes to what it’s like to live with dementia, I don’t think I would have had any idea of the reality of it up until last year.

“People just assume it comes with old age and you become permanently confused, but Janie is actually very aware of what is happening to her. She gets cross with herself because she can’t remember and becomes frustrated. Janie talks openly about how it affects her day to day, for instance she can’t use the cooker anymore, and although she has family around she shares her thoughts with me so as not to worry her two daughters.

“We enjoy our time together each week and I have helped her with various strategies to make things easier for her.

“For example Janie has no concept of time when she wakes up so we have set her alarm clock for 7.30 to help her get her bearings more easily each morning. She has found this a great help. But mostly we just have some fun.”

Rebecca Futrall, regional fundraising officer for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We can’t thank Alison enough for running the Cambridge Half Marathon for us and we wish her the best of luck. At the moment there are 850,000 people across the UK living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, including over 14,000 in West Sussex.

“With no treatments to stop the disease process in its tracks, we urgently need new ways to combat this devastating condition.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK invests in research projects that hold the best hope of finding preventions and treatments for dementia. For more information go to www.alzheimersresearchuk.org