An ex-Claret full back suffering with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease is enjoying a 12-week day-patient course offered by Pendleside Hospice.
Freddie Smith, now 76, was diagnosed with dementia 18 months ago and the weekly Living with Dementia sessions help sufferers and their spouses and carers to address the condition.
He said: “It’s wonderful that Pendleside Hospice is here to help people with dementia. When I’m here I get guidance and advice but all in an informal enjoyable way.
“I also get to share experiences with other sufferers," he added. "When you’re at home, you feel like you’re on your own as a dementia sufferer but here you realise that other people are in the same boat.
“The staff here help you deal with the condition and the atmosphere is lovely. We have a lot of laughs.”
Freddie and his wife Jean live in Barnoldswick and have two children, Julian and Amanda. After retiring from football, he ran several businesses before retiring in his late 50s. He had a milk round, a newsagent’s and a small restaurant in Nelson.
Jean said: “After Freddie retired, we enjoyed lots of things especially going on holiday to Australia where, at one time, we nearly emigrated. Then a couple of years ago, Fred started acting differently.
“Nothing serious but things like not shaving at the normal time," she continued. “We didn’t realise immediately that it was the first signs of Alzheimer’s. These days, the main thing he does that’s unlike his old self is repeating stories to people that he has already told them only a few minutes earlier.”
Jean was also full of praise for Pendleside, saying: “It’s so relaxing to come here and share our issues with other people. We learn so much and not only do the staff care for the patient but also their families as well.
“They understand that when a person is suffering dementia it has a knock-on effect on whoever cares for them," she added. "While we’ve been coming here, I’ve enjoyed reflexology sessions which have really helped me.
“When we finish the 12-week course we will really miss it.”