A TV sports presenter whose parents both have dementia has told of her sadness that her mum may not recognise her after lockdown ends, because "the window is closing every day.”

Alison Walker’s parents Sandy, 88, and Olive, 85, are in the same care home and she is thankful that they still recognise each other “most of the time.”

However, with family visits to care homes not permitted until at least August, the former BBC presenter says there is a real risk her mother will not know her, after almost six months apart.

The mum-of-two decided to create a picture book that care home staff can share with Olive to help trigger and lock-in precious family memories, including celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

Glasgow Times:

Alison, who lives in Glasgow, said: “My dad doesn’t recognise me at all but mum does, just. But at the end of this who knows. 

"When someone has dementia that window is closing, all the time. Every day that window closes just a little bit more and it’s closing as we speak.

“If mum had the choice of six months where she could go out with the family and do stuff or living another three or four years and being shut away in a prison - I  know which choice she would take.

“Recognition is the one thing we are hanging onto right now.

“I just thought to myself, what can I do here. I need to keep it really simple and straightforward and not confuse her with too many pictures.

“I thought quite carefully about how she would react to each one. There may be care workers going through it with her who don’t know her story. 

“So, it says things like, ‘This is James, your first son, he lives in Bankok. 

“This is your husband, you’ve been married for 60 years, he’s called Sandy.”

Glasgow Times:

Alison, who was born in Hamilton but lives in Glasgow and now works freelance was able to witness her mum’s reaction to the book on Skype a few days ago.

She said: “She couldn’t communicate with me on Skype because she was smiling so much so I’m feeling full of gladness right now.

“She was completely focussed on the book and kept saying, ‘lovely. lovely, marvellous, wonderful - the whole way through.

“To get that reaction was lovely.”

READ MORE: Daughter's dementia warning after mum's lockdown disappearance 

Alzheimer Scotland say the pandemic has caused “increased levels of stress, distress and anxiety” for the dementia community while Glasgow’s Golden Generation, which runs day centres for older people, said it has experience a sharp rise in calls to its helpline.

Alison’s father was diagnosed with vascular dementia around eight years ago, while her mother, a former midwife, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease  in 2015.

She believes her mother’s illness was brought on by to the stress of caring for her husband. She has three brothers and says there was no family history of dementia.

She said: “It just came out of nowhere.

“We are a really sporty family, mum played tennis and golf, dad played golf, we eat relatively healthy.

Recognition is the one thing we are hanging onto 

“I think a lot of is is down to stress. Dad was a GP in the seventies in Hamilton and he was on call during the night, throughout the week. I think it was the stress of that.

“And it’s the added factors, like maybe drinking too much to cope with the stress.

“We made the decision to put them in the same care home because they still recognise each other, just.

Glasgow Times:

“I go over and my son’s girlfriend goes over, two or three times a week normally. That familiarity is very important and that’s been cut.

“It’s a fine balance between keeping them well and safe and looking after their mental health because it has been shot to pieces right now.

“I used to take mum to a ballet class, run by Scottish Ballet at the Tron (theatre). It’s not just about moving and getting her out, it’s the contact with other people and she’s missing all that.

READ MORE: Deaths from dementia expected to double in coronavirus lockdown 

“Dad doesn’t make any sense at all now but if you mention key topics like beer or Hamilton Accies or Olive (his wife) you get a reaction. 

“We are lucky in some respects in that they don’t seem to be aware of what’s going on in the outside world so they don’t have the stress of worrying about that.

“It’s a tough, tough illness. But you find little chinks of light in any situation."

Glasgow Times:

The Glasgow Times and Herald Think Dementia campaign is calling for improved care, support and treatment of people with the disease including free medical costs in the final years.