Julie Duffus is the first volunteer to enlist in a major new dementia prevention study, which kicks off today at the Centre for Dementia Prevention. Julie, who lives near Edinburgh, decided to take part in the research led by Craig Ritchie after both her parents had dementia.
She said: “My mum and dad both had Alzheimer’s disease so I’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects it has on patients’ lives and those around them. Both my parents were involved in research themselves so it is important for me to play my part too. I hope that my contribution will in some way help scientists to find better ways of diagnosing the disease and potentially, one day, to prevent it.”
Julie’s mum Beryl was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her early 80s after experiencing memory loss. She was one of the first to take part in a clinical trial of the Alzheimer’s drug galantamine, which is now widely used to treat the condition. She passed away in 2005.
Tragically, just four years later, Julie’s dad Bert was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He deteriorated quickly and passed away in 2012.
Julie has since retired from her job as civilian support staff in the police service and relocated to Scotland with her husband Steve. She is passionate about learning more about the illness that claimed her parents’ lives and recently completed an online course about the many faces of dementia.
“I like to keep up-to-date with research and try to read and learn as much as I can. I’m very aware that genetics can sometimes play a role in Alzheimer’s, so it is worrying for me. By taking part in this study, I hope I can help other families who are affected by this horrible disease.”
Julie is also a participant in PREVENT, a UK study to identify factors that are present in mid- life that may influence risk of dementia.