THE HARSH reality of caring for a partner with dementia has prompted a Warwickshire couple to open their hearts about the devastating impact the condition has had on their relationship.
As part of a moving TV and radio advertising campaign launched by dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society, Andy and Kim Norris have talked about how they fulfilled the ultimate vow of staying together ‘in sickness and in health’.
Kim was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia called Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PSA) in 2021.
Andy said: “In her late 50’s Kim had a few problems with her memory, which we jokingly put down as simply an age thing. Kim then also had problems with her eyesight, and hand-to-eye coordination challenges.
“After an MRI scan of Kim’s eyes, we were given the devastating diagnosis that she has PSA, one of the rarer forms of Alzheimer’s. Kim was only 63 and still relatively young for such a diagnosis.”
Suddenly the whole dynamic of their relationship changed.
“We’d always had a loving, and caring marriage,” said Andy, “but as Kim was slowly robbed of parts of herself, I had to step in. Even using the TV or radio became difficult for Kim.
“I metamorphosed into Kim’s carer. The first time someone pointed this out to me I was taken aback. I hadn’t consciously set out to be that. We’d both previously thought, like many people, that dementia meant a loss of memory.”
After the initial shock, they soon realised they couldn’t beat or cure it – but they mutually decided they wouldn’t let it damage their relationship.
He said: “We would learn to live with it, rather than fight against it, and any subsequent challenges it might present, we would deal with together – both in a practical manner, but also in the good-natured way we’d always lived our lives before Kim’s diagnosis.
“We look for the positive things and maintain our joint sense of humour. You have to learn to live with the cards you are dealt, and maintain your positivity, with a large sprinkle of love and laughter, despite the challenges we face now or in the future.”
There are currently 900,000 people living with the condition in the UK – over 84,000 of them in the West Midlands – a figure that is expected to rise to almost 1.6million by 2040.
Judith King, Alzheimer’s Society Head of Services for the West Midlands, said: “Caring for a partner with dementia is fulfilling the ultimate relationship vow but navigating your way through ‘in sickness and in health’ can be overwhelming.
“Our vow to people affected by dementia is that we will be there, we will provide hope, and we will help you climb those mountains. But we simply can’t reach everyone and that’s why we’re calling on the public to donate.
“I would encourage anyone with questions and concerns to learn more and to donate so we can be there for even more people.”
Visit https://tinyurl.com/bx4ectnn to watch the TV advertisement.
Visit www.alzheimers.org.uk for more information, or to donate.