Documenting Your Alzheimer's Journey Through Photographs
When was the last time you took a photo with your loved one who has Alzheimer's? Scroll through your phone and find the last one. How long ago was it? A week? A month? Six months? More?
When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I had no idea how much it would affect her physical appearance. It wasn't long before I began to notice a faraway glance in her eyes. She no longer seemed to be looking at me, but past me. As more time passed, she began keeping her eyes closed most of the time. With even more time, she began to lean heavily to one side and hang her head down low.
Alzheimer's journey through photographs
As the disease progressed and I began to notice these subtle changes, I stopped taking pictures of my mom. Whenever I would try, she would not look up or smile for the camera. She no longer understood what a camera was or what it meant to have her picture taken. I thought it was pointless in trying to capture a good photo of her, let alone of us together.
Beautiful moments with mom
At some point, I realized I did not have many recent photos of my mom. I had become so concerned with getting a good photo that I wasn't taking any photos at all. I also realized that I was likely going to regret it one day when my mom was gone and I didn't have any photos to remember her by.
I began taking photos of her constantly. She may not have been smiling or looking at the camera in every single one, but I still managed to capture so many beautiful moments of my mom. I have so many beautiful memories of us together that really come alive when I look through all of the photos I took. I could not imagine if I didn't have them.
Remembering our story together
It took me a while to learn that although my mom's Alzheimer's journey was heartbreaking and difficult, I would still want to remember it because it is part of our story. I would still want to remember my mom during that time because she was still my mom. I would regret it if I didn't have any recent pictures of my mom when she died.
At times, it can be hard to look back and remember all that my mom went through. It can be hard to see the physical changes in photos. But I am still grateful I have them to remember her by. It is also a constant reminder of our love, our bond, and the fact that I never left her side.
Advice to other caregivers
So, my advice to all Alzheimer's caregivers is to just take the picture. It doesn't have to be a good one. It is still a moment in time. It is still a memory of your loved one. One day when your loved one is gone, those photos will be all you have left. And you will be so glad you took them.
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