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Karin Gustafsson writes about her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Monday 25 April 2016

When I received comments from my husband and my children that I needed to seek medical advice at the health centre, to check why I occasionally repeat what I already said and be examined, I had to go through several tests of character, as well as a lumbar puncture. And also, I got to undergo a scan of the brain. I had the results of the investigations carried out and the diagnosis was "mild Alzheimer's disease". I was prescribed Donepezil.

After the diagnosis, my husband Lars and I invited our three adult children to lunch and then we told them about the disease. We cried together and talked about the disease. It was a very emotional time, and in the end, we began to laugh and talk about our reactions.

I also want to tell you about the situation with my employers at the University and my employer in the municipality. At both sites, I was gradually able to do easier tasks to tutor students and summarise research texts in the field of language and communication. I also participated in some workshops and lectures, etc. But I feel that they don’t rely on me as they did before, anymore, when it comes to both of my managers.

We have also been told about essential oils that can be used to relieve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. I use them twice a day on my scalp, the soles of my feet, my neck and along my spine. They smell good, and can also be used for their aroma.

In my spare time, I now devote myself to going to the gym, to work out different parts of the body, about three times a week. Recently, it has been reported that new findings show physical activity has an impact on the brain. My husband and I are trying to do 10,000 steps per day, which gives us both agility, strength and conditioning. Other than that, I usually go to yoga, but I have not done so this semester.

We also participate in a network once per month called “Alzheimer's café”, with other people who have Alzheimer's disease, and their families. At these meetings, there are various scientists, who talk about the latest research.

Finally, we are very grateful that we may be included in the European Working Group of People with Dementia (EWGPWD), which both gives us power and strength. At present, we have chosen not to talk about the disease with other relatives and good friends, because there are a lot of prejudices in society and fear of this disease.

Karin Gustafsson

Member of the EWGPWD