This is a story about my grandparents Else and Poul, whom I’ve been photographing over a period of three years.
In 2011 Poul got diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. 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 could not recognize faces of people close to him. Poul was 83 years and Else is 84 years. They were married for 57 years.
Note: Ongoing project
Wedding. July 1, 1961.
"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.”
Alzheimer’s disease develops differently depending on the person. Poul became more slow and unbalanced physically and mentally over the past few years. Else used to lock all the doors in their house, to prevent Poul from walking out at night.
"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.”
Poul, 81 years old.
Else, 82 years old.
"Sometimes we have small moments where we can reach other.”
For a long time Else took care of her husband in their home. In July 2016 he moved into a local nursing home to relieve Else. During his time at the nursing home Else visited him every day.
"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.”
Else is talking on the phone with a girlfriend about Poul’s situation. She often felt depressed and once she started seeing a psychologist.
At the nursing home they have a voucher system so the patients can get a bath once a week. At this point Poul was too sick, so the morning routine was done while he was lying in bed.
Else and Poul on a small walk in the hallways at the nursing home.
Else is getting ready to go out for dinner. After Poul got sick Else did not spend much time by herself to do what she likes to do.
When the nurses told Else, that Poul could die soon, she stayed with him day and night at the nursing home, sleeping on a mattress next to his bed.
“Sometimes I wish he could get peace, but it’s tough no matter what.”
Poul died April 9, 2018.
One week after Poul died Else celebrated her 84th birthday. She lives alone in their house and plans to stay there.