Around 800 people are diagnosed with dementia every year in Fife.
The condition can affect people’s ability to remember, think and make decisions.
And the most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.
A diagnosis often prompts feelings of anxiety among people who have it and those who care for them.
But help is at hand, thanks to Alzheimer Scotland services across the region.
The organisation has just relaunched its offering after moving services online during the Covid pandemic.
And it has a huge resource centre next to Kirkcaldy bus station where you can drop in for advice or an informal chat.
It also organises a whole range of group activities all over Fife, including snooker, walking groups, music groups, fitness and football reminiscence.
We popped in to the Kirkcaldy dementia centre to speak to staff and volunteers about their work.
And we also spoke to two men who care for their wives about the support they receive, as well as to Kirkcaldy woman Jeanette Lewis, who has the condition.
Here’s what they had to say.
The Alzheimer Scotland staff: ‘We’re welcoming, friendly and informal’
Research shows that up to three quarters of people with dementia saw their condition deteriorate more quickly than expected during lockdown.
According to Alzheimer Scotland locality manager Caroline Mitchell-Wemyss, this is because most people with the condition rely on routine and social interaction.
Caroline is therefore delighted face-to-face services are back up and running.
“We would like to introduce more people to our service so we can help make sure no one faces dementia alone,” she said.
“We have community groups, day care provision, outreach support, information and education available across Fife.
“And we have 23 staff, as well as a volunteer team, who are fab.”
Dementia adviser Faye Smart says anyone is welcome to get in touch, whether or not they have a diagnosis.
“We’re welcoming, friendly and informal,” she said.
“You can just pop in to the Kirkcaldy dementia resource centre or make an appointment to have a chat.
“We provide everything from a listening ear to signposting to other forms of support.”
The volunteer: ‘It’s so rewarding’
Morag McRaith, from Kirkcaldy, began volunteering with Alzheimer Scotland when her mum died of the condition in 2018.
She loves it and says she gets enormous satisfaction from helping others.
“I started with the arts and crafts group and then I was cooking lunches,” she said.
“I really enjoyed it and it helped me get over the loss of my mum.
“When the pandemic hit, that was it. The centre just closed and all the groups were stopped.
“I started as a telephone befriender to a lady called Judy, who lived on her own in Cairneyhill.
“I used to phone her every week and got to know a bit about her background.”
Judy is now in a care home but Morag still calls her each week for a chat.
Morag said she would encourage others to get involved in volunteering.
“It’s so rewarding,” she said.
“And it helps you as a person as well. I think you become more patient and more understanding.”
The carers: ‘The centre has given me peace of mind’
Ronnie Fenton from Cardenden cares for his wife Marilyn, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago.
The 72-year-old says the Kirkcaldy resource centre has helped both him and Marilyn.
“Before Covid, she came to the healthy hearts and hips group on a Tuesday,” he said.
“They also have a flashback Friday where they ask people what they want to hear and see.
“There’s music and comedy like Francie and Josie. That’s a good thing.”
And Ronnie has received practical support, such as help with applying for a blue disabled badge for his car.
“I had a hard time getting that and was refused the first time,” he said.
“Then they helped me fill in the form and I got the blue badge.
“If I’ve got any problems at all, they do their best to try to help me.
“And they have a carers’ meeting on a Thursday on the Ipad where we can talk to each other.
“Every person is at a different stage.”
He added: “Dementia is a horrible disease. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.
“But the centre has given me peace of mind.”
Hugh Hoffman, 78, from Ladybank, agrees.
He cared for wife Doris Rougvie before she moved to a care home and still receives support from the centre.
“There’s a lot of unknowns and Faye and Janine (dementia adviser Janine Adair) have been helpful with advice.
“They mentioned a couple of grant schemes I wouldn’t have known about otherwise and I’ve heard lots of positive things from other people.”
Jeanette Lewis: ‘Everybody is so nice’
Jeanette Lewis, from Kirkcaldy, has received support since getting her dementia diagnosis.
And the town’s resource centre has been a lifeline.
She says she didn’t realise she was displaying Alzheimer symptoms until someone else mentioned it to her.
“They recommended I come down here and I thoroughly enjoy it,” she said.
“I sometimes get the wrong times and the wrong dates but I do my best.”
Jeanette is involved in the Kirkcaldy social group and takes part in healthy heart and hips every week.
“There’s all different groups and we just have a big laugh,” she said.
“Is that not what we should be doing?
“Everybody in here is so nice. They really are.”
The Alzheimer Scotland Kirkcaldy Dementia Resource Centre is behind stance seven at the bus station.
Advisers Fay and Janine can be contacted on 01592 204541 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alzheimer Scotland also has a 24-hour national dementia helpline: 0808 808 3000.