In 2011 Poul Mathiassen got diagnosed with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But already in the years before he had symptoms that is associated with the diseases, such as bad memory, difficulties concentrating and lack of sense of time and place. In the end he did not remember who was who. Poul Mathiassen was 83 years and Else Mathiassen is 84 years. They were married for 57 years.
Note: Ongoing project
"Poul was a lieutenant when I was a nurse at the hospital in Randers. Then some friends of mine invited me to the barracks for dinner, and then there was Poul... Well, then we started seeing each other... And that was it.”
Wedding. July 1st 1961.
"One day he was brushing his teeth, when he said to me: I can't control the toothbrush... And then it started. All the loses, so many loses. Whenever we met with friends, he would ask them their names.”
Dementia is developing differently. Poul got more slow and unbalanced both physically and mental over the first couple of years, and soon it got harder and harder for him to speak and form sentences that made sense. He was never angry, but sometimes frustrated about not understanding his own illness.
Poul, 81 years old.
Else, 82 years old.
"Sometimes we have small moments where we can reach other.”
"Now I do not only think, he has gotten used to live with Alzheimer's, I think he's not even aware he is sick.”
For a long time Else took care of her husband in their home. In July 2016 he moved into a local nursing home for old people, to relieve Else from hard work. During his time at the nursing home Else visited him everyday.
Else is talking on the phone with a girlfriend about Pouls situation. She often felt depressed, and once she started seeing a psychologist.
At the nursing home they had a voucher system, so the patients could get a bath once a week. At this point Poul is too sick, so the morning rutine is done while he is laying in bed.
The old apple tree in Else and Pouls garden.
Poul in his room at the nursing home 2016.
When Poul started getting sick many years ago, Else moved the bedroom upstairs, so Poul wouldn’t have to walk the stairs too much. Now Else is sleeping alone in their bed.
To prevent Poul from running away from the nursing home, he had an alarm bracelet on his right arm, but in the end he could not get up from his chair and he slept most of the day. Else usually sat with him and hold his hand, so he knew that she was there.
To make it easier to live alone in the house, Else was cleaning and moving Pouls things out.
Early morning in the house. Here Else and Pouls two children grew up, Lisbeth and Henrik, who are now 50 and 45 years old.
In April Poul got so sick, that the nurses told Else he could die anytime. So Else stayed with him day and night at the nursing home, sleeping on a madras next to his bed.
“Sometimes i wish he could get peace, but it’s tough no matter what.”
Sweetheart picture of Poul from when they first met in 1960.
Sweetheart picture of Else from when they first met in 1960.
Poul died April 9th 2018.
Else is saying her last goodbye to Poul.
One week after Poul died Else celebrated her 84th birthday. She lives alone in their house and plans to stay there.