Liv Thorsen, member of the European Dementia Carers Working Group writes about “A carer’s considerations”


"It is now nine years since my husband received his Alzheimer's diagnosis. This was very early in the process, and we have now had nine years with a good quality of life. We chose to be open about this, both with family and friends, and in the local environment. As a nurse, I had experience from psychiatry and for many years I was also teaching patients and carers how to cope and live with a chronic disease. The knowledge I had about dementia and Alzheimer’s helped me a lot in how to cope with the challenges in everyday life. We continued to live our life as normally as possible. I was at the end of my professional career and my husband, who was retired, managed just fine at home. Short-term memory gradually disappeared, and he had challenges with orientation, but this did not bother him. We were both determined to focus on the day-to-day, make the most of what we enjoyed, not putting anything off. We stopped traveling to new places, but went back to the places my husband liked, booking the same hotels, the same rooms, which creates security, so we can enjoy our stay from day one.

Focusing on everything that is intact and not on what isn’t working helps me. A lot of functions are still fresh and his personality has not changed. I never think that I live with a "diagnosis", but rather a person who has some challenges because of a diagnosis. I am a local politician, which is both interesting and rewarding, and a place where I can influence what concerns elderly care and services for people with dementia. I want to continue with this even when the disease progresses for my husband, so we have to cooperate with family, friends and our network, to get assistance when needed. I think I am a better wife and carer when I can do what makes sense to me. We both have a strong belief that it makes us feel good to have good experiences, even if they are forgotten immediately, as they settle in the body and leave a good feeling. We live one day at a time – and nobody knows what the next day will bring."