That’s the agony that befell Ann Yourston, from Penicuik in Midlothian, in 2001.
Yet it has taken her on a journey to help others afflicted and affected by the disease, as she looks to honour their memory in support of charity Alzheimer Scotland.
Taking on one of her biggest challenges to date, the 51-year-old housing officer will fly out to China this October to take part in a Great Wall of China trek.
The challenge will see Ann, alongside her friend and colleague Ann Robertson, hike a distance of 36km over five days to raise up to £3,000 for the cause.
Ann, said: “I lost mum and dad to dementia three months apart in 2001. The illness turned our lives upside down, but you have no choice but to pick yourself back up and carry on.
“My parents’ love story began in 1948 when they met at a dance and married the same year. Mum was a shorthand typist and dad was assistant manager at an engineering firm.
“Dementia is scary and is still a bit of a taboo subject, but I am already seeing things improve. Yes, it is a horrible and progressive disease but there is now so much support available to help people live well with dementia so things are moving ahead positively.”
It comes as Alzheimer Scotland launches their annual new year campaign Challenge Dementia which urges the nation to shake off the January blues and sign up to a challenge to support people living with dementia across Scotland.
Anna Devine, director of fundraising and marketing from Alzheimer Scotland, who need more than £105,000 a week to deliver their services, said: “Dementia is the biggest health and social care challenge faced by Scotland today, whilst there is currently no cure, we can come together as a nation to help challenge dementia by getting active with friends, family and colleagues.
“We have a huge challenge facing us in 2018 to ensure that we meet our commitment as a national dementia charity to continue providing information, advice, support and engagement across the length and breadth of Scotland. Demand for our support is high so we really need people in Scotland to help us.”
For more information visit alzscot.org/challengedementia