The patients story

Ambassador for Alzheimer’s – a new mission

alzecure-patients-story-imageNina Gunke is a beloved actress who many people recognize from popular Swedish television shows. Now Nina has a completely different job on her plate: she is an ambassador for the Swedish Alzheimer’s Foundation.

In 2020, Nina was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and plummeted into an anxious darkness when she received the news.

“I told my family that I don’t want to talk about this. I was ashamed and didn’t want anyone to know. I was afraid that peo- ple would make comments or think I was weird when I couldn’t find the right words. But after six months of anxiety, I told myself that I couldn’t go on like this.” Nina decided to go public with her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. In an interview on the Swedish morning TV show Nyhetsmorgon, she opened up and talked about the difficult time. She never imagined that she would receive so many kind reactions.

“Going public with it was the best thing I ever did. I feel so free and open and it feels great to be able to talk about it. Many people have contacted me and told me that they’ve felt the same way, which encourages me to keep talking about it.” When Nina was asked to become an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Foundation, she felt it was an important mission that could help others. By raising awareness and encouraging people to talk about the disease, Nina wants to reduce the stigma surrounding it.

“I was thrilled when they asked me to take on the job. By talking about what it’s like to live with the disease and opening up about it, I hope that more people will have the courage to do the same.
Having the diagnosis myself, I know exactly what it means.

At first, I thought only really old people got this disease. But it can happen to anyone. Many people are in the prime of their lives, just like me.” There are other things going on in Nina’s life right now. On Alzheimer’s Day, September 21, 2022, she released her autobiography “Before I forget.” The book has garnered considerable interest and has sold many copies.

“I was called by the publisher who wanted to write a book with me. I was hesitant at first but then decided to do it for a good cause. The book is partly about my life, but it also focuses a lot on Alzheimer’s and how the disease has affected me and my family. Part of the proceeds from the book sales will go towards the Alzheimer’s Foundation’s important work to enable more research advances.”

Today, Nina Gunke is no longer ashamed of forgetting things or standing in the shop and forgetting the PIN code for her debit card. “If there is something I don’t know when I go shopping, for example, I just ask for help. I can say ‘Excuse me, I have Alzheimer’s – can you please help me?’, and people do just that. It’s that simple. It’s really nice. I used to be afraid that people waiting in line behind me would think I was an idiot for not knowing the PIN code, which made me even more stressed.”

What has your husband Samuel meant for you during this time? “He has meant a great deal to me. He’s been so incredibly patient with me. When I don’t know things, he’s been amazing,” she says, and Samuel backs up what she says.

“That’s just how it is, when someone gets sick, you have to help each other. That’s life – I could be diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, you never know. This just becomes a daily routine, we plan things differently than before, but it works out just fine. We’ve also moved from Lidingö to the city and that was necessary for Nina, said Samuel.

Photo: Lotte Fernvall