TO her family, Hamilton's Dorothy Prince was a special woman.
She sang in the Wesley Uniting Church choir, loved the ocean and enjoyed a meat pie from Bar Beach kiosk.
Sadly, Mrs Prince succumbed to Alzheimer's disease in July 2009 at age 88.
However, her memory lives on in the minds of those who loved her most.
Mrs Prince's slow decline began in 2004 when she was diagnosed with the illness.
"Mum knew something was wrong with her," Mrs Prince's youngest daughter, Leanne Hudson said. "She'd say, "I don't like who I am any more"."
Ms Hudson, her son Nathaniel who was Mrs Prince's only grandchild, her sister Lynette Prince and their father Gordon watched helplessly as their mother, grandmother and wife gradually lost her identity.
The telltale sign Mrs Prince had Alzheimer's was when she forgot where things were in the home for more than 70 years.
Mrs Prince was raised in the house and lived there with her neighbour and childhood sweetheart, Mr Prince, after they married in 1942.
Mr Prince was her rock until the end.
"She kept her sense of humour," Mr Prince said.
"She'd say to me, don't you dare go before me, I won't speak to you.
"Truth is, I spent those last years already mourning her death."
During this time, Mr Prince felt isolated.
That's when he found Hamilton's Hunter Dementia and Memory Resource Centre men's support group.
Mr Prince has been a member ever since, staying on after his wife passed away to help other men cope with grief.
"The centre is invaluable," Mr Prince said.
"Some of the men [in the support group] are surprised when they find out there is help available."
To give back to the centre, Mr Prince and his family will participate in Alzheimer's Australia's annual Hunter Memory Walk & Jog for the second year.
■ The Hunter Memory Walk & Jog will be held on Sunday, August 24 at Speers Point Park. An early-bird registration day will be held on Wednesday, August 20, at the Hunter Dementia and Memory Resource Centre, 2 Percy Street, Hamilton from 9am to 6pm. To register go to memorywalk.com.au/hunter.
THE Hunter Dementia and Memory Resource Centre is a federally-funded Alzheimer’s Australia initiative.
Established in 2007, the Hamilton day therapy centre provides support to families affected by dementia through a range of information and care services.
It reaches 11 local government areas across the Hunter, from Newcastle and Morisset in the south, Forster in the north and Merriwa in the west.
The centre also acts as a networking hub, connecting people with social groups such as choirs.
For information, phone the centre on 49627000, visit fightdementia.org.au or drop in at 2 Percy Street, Hamilton.