A man will embark on a gruelling challenge to climb a Kyrgyzstan mountain to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society after his Croxley Green mother was diagnosed with the disease last year.
Chris Sainsbury’s 78-year-old mother, Shirley, has Alzheimer’s and is cared for by her 80-year-old husband, Brian.
The couple, who live in Uplands, have been coping with the "brutal disease" since Mrs Sainsbury was diagnosed about 18 months ago.
Her son said he has seen the damaging effects the disease has had on his family.
Mr Sainsbury, a former St Clement Danes pupil, said: "It’s a really brutal disease. We kind of expected there was something very wrong with her a while back when she was asking questions over and over again, which we initially found mildly irritating.
"Then it becomes an elephant in the room. You think there is something wrong with Mum but no one wants to bring it up. She comes to the door and asks who you are.
"Alzheimer’s can go on and on and on and there is no escaping it for my mother."
Mr Sainsbury’s father, a retired jewellery businessman, has the full-time job of caring for his wife, who is a retired teacher.
Mr Sainsbury continued: "The stress he is under is taking its toll. He is determined for her not to go into a home and when you watch TV, I don’t blame him. "My biggest fear, though, is that the stress will kill him too. This disease is hitting ever increasing numbers and every one of the families will have a similar story, personal to them.
"What has been really helpful is the amazing support of the Alzheimer’s Society West Herts Branch. They have helped in a number of ways. Firstly, while Mum was still up to it, they used to go to the Society’s social events in the area.
"This was a great chance for my parents to get out and meet other people going through similar experiences and share stories. It was a relief for Dad to be in an environment where Mum’s dementia and forgetfulness was not a source of embarrassment - everyone in the room knew what each other was going through and understood."
Mr Sainsbury, 47, lives in Exeter with his wife, Lucy, and their two young children. He is director of travel company, Kaizen Adventures.
He said he is worried about his father being alone, looking after his mother, and has chosen to climb Peak Lenin in Kyrgyzstan to raise money for a charity that has given the family so much support - the Alzheimer's Society.
Mr Sainsbury jets off on July 20 and expects the challenge to take about three weeks. A fundraising target of £7,134 has been set to match the peak’s height in metres.
To sponsor his fundraising efforts, visit www.justgiving.com/Chris-Sainsbury1