He no longer remembers who is who. 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. Poul Mathiassen is 82 years and Else Mathiassen is 83 years. They have been married for 56 years. And they are my grandparents.
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," Else says.
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," Else says.
Poul is getting slow and unbalanced both physically and mental, and it gets harder and harder for him to speak and form sentences that makes sense.
Poul is 82 years old.
Else is 83 years old.
"Sometimes we have small moments where we can reach other," Else says.
"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 says.
For a long time Else has been taking care of her husband in their home. Now he has moved into a local nursing home for old people. Else visits him everyday.
Else is talking on the phone with a girlfriend about Poul. She is feeling depressed, and has started seeing a psychologist.
At the nursing home they have a voucher system, so the patients can get a bath once a week.
Sometimes they listen to Pouls favorite music when Else visits him. It helps him to remember.
The old apple tree in my grandparents garden.
"Poul seeks Else. Seen latest. Else. Newspapers." Note written by Poul.
Sweetheart picture of Poul from when they first met in 1960.
Sweetheart picture of Else from when they first met in 1960.
"The photographer told me to moisten my lips and think about the handsome young man," Else says.
To prevent Poul from running away from the nursing home, he has an alarm bracelet on his right arm. But now he can't get up from his chair and he sleeps most of the day. Else usually sits with him and hold his hand, so he knows that she is there.
Else is cleaning out and moving around to make it easier to live alone in the house.
Else and Poul have two children and three grandchildren.
Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that is fatal.