Derbyshire man tells of how Alzheimer’s disease has ‘robbed wife of her life’ as he prepares for charity challenge

“This illness is so heartbreaking, so cruel. Patricia used to be full of life – but it has robbed her of that.”

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 11:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 6:02 pm

Those are the words of Jim Critchlow, whose beloved wife Patricia was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in her 50s nearly a decade ago.

Since then, he has tragically seen his spouse of nearly 45 years deteriorate to the point where she no longer knows who he is.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jim and Patricia Critchlow.

Now, the retired Derbyshire County Council joiner is raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Society by doing something amazing – walking 6.3 miles every day for 100 days.

“It’s a wonderful charity and I want to raise as much money and awareness as possible for them,” said Jim, of Overdale Avenue, Buxton.

“I’ll not only be doing all that walking, I’ll also be growing a beard – I probably won’t have the energy to shave anyway!”

Jim, 67, said he and family became concerned in 2009 when they noticed Patricia’s personality began to change.

Patricia was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2013.

“She could be agitated and argumentative, which wasn’t like her at all,” he added.

“We knew something wasn’t right.”

Four years later, Patricia was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

She is well-known in Buxton and worked hard over the years, including at the town’s Waitrose store, local care homes and Lightwood Dental Practice.

Jim will be walking miles every day for 100 days to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society. Picture by Brian Eyre.

The couple’s three children, Daniel, Shelley and Leanne, have previously taken part in a skydive to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Shelley and her husband James have also previously completed the Buxton Half Marathon in aid of the charity.

“Patricia used to love ballroom dancing,” Jim said.

“She was a wonderful dancer and entered competitions.

Pictured with Jim and Patricia are their children, Daniel, Shelley and Leanne.

“She was a brilliant flower arranger.

“She used to love a party.

“She used to love life.

“She is now in a care home, and I’m able to go and see her once a week since Covid restrictions were relaxed.

“She can’t speak, she can’t walk.

“She doesn’t know who I am.

Jim and Patricia have been married for nearly 45 years.

“It’s incredibly tough, and I often wonder why life has been so cruel to someone so wonderful.”

Jim will start his charity challenge on April 26 – Patricia’s 65th birthday.

He said: “We used to enjoy walking together and as a family – so this is a perfect way of celebrating her birthday while helping an amazing charity.

“Most of my walks will take place in Buxton and I’ll be circulating the whole town.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

He has already raised more than £2,000 so far.

People can also keep up-to-date with Jim’s fundraising and watch an emotional video of family pictures via facebook.com/Jim-Critchlows-Miles-For-Memories-104047001802617.

Factfile

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia in the UK, and can affect memory, thinking skills and other mental abilities.

The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is not yet fully understood – although a number of things are thought to increase people’s risk of developing the condition, including increasing age and a family history of the condition.

The first sign of Alzheimer's disease is usually minor memory problems and there are often signs of mood changes.

Alzheimer's disease is most common in people aged over 65 but around one in every 20 cases affects people aged 40 to 65.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

For more information, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.

A message from Phil Bramley, Derbyshire Times editor

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription at www.localsubsplus.co.uk or buying a paper.