Sometimes, all it takes is a visual, to tell a powerful story. That’s what this photo does, in conveying the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s. Reddit user wuillermania shared a photo of her mother’s crochet work and captioned it, “The progression of Alzheimer’s through my mom’s crocheting.”
Progressing from the top left to the bottom right, there are 11 doilies laid out in rows. Whereas the early crochet show clear patterns, design and use of multiple colors of yarn, the last crochet pieces are one color and almost look like loose balls of yarn.
It’s as dramatic a visual as I’ve seen of mental decline. wuillermania says that it was a few years between the first and last piece. “I’d say it was within the first couple years of diagnosis,” she wrote. “This is something that she hasn’t been able to do for a very long time, but was a very large part of the initial stages of her disease journey (her doctor had recommended partaking in activities that would keep her brain active).”
“I first took this photo after re-finding the bag of all the odds and ends she had crocheted after she got sick,” she revealed. “It has been years since she was able to do this, and while I knew how her ability declined, it was really the first time I looked at it all together. I was compelled to lay them out in a way that tracked the progression and take the photo. I admit that at the time, it was overwhelming for me, but I truly didn’t expect it would resonate with people the way it did.”
Her post started a dialogue on the reddit post with many people sharing their own experiences with the heartbreaking disease. She also shared more details about how her mom’s Alzheimer’s has affected her father.
“I am so incredibly impressed with my father and the person he’s become since her disease. When she first got sick, it was definitely very, very hard for him to accept–there was a lot of denial about what this would mean for her, and all of us. But it’s been 12 years now and no real way to escape the reality of what this is.
“My dad made it very clear very early on that she would be cared for in the home and he’s stayed true to that decision (I wanted to note that this isn’t to say anything about people who choose otherwise–being able to provide this care is exhausting, and for many, completely impossible to do in-home).
“He helps feed her, he helps bathe her, dresses her in the morning, gets her ready for bed. It’s a level of devotion I honestly did not realize he was capable of, and it’s made me so proud to call him my father and has also taught me to better appreciate the many facets of love.”
“Before my mom got sick, I don’t think he ever set foot in a grocery store or ran most domestic errands. Now he’s the one calling me about good sales at Macy’s or asking if I need anything from the bulk discount store. He’s become much more patient, much more understanding, and very supportive of my brother and I in a way I don’t think he’d be otherwise.
That all being said, he’s tired. You can tell this has taken its toll.
“He’s had to sacrifice a lot of things–his freedom, many friendships (people don’t know how to handle this and often choose to avoid instead. I remember the last time he took her out to eat in town–he was so upset.
“Apparently there were people there who he was friends with who obviously were avoiding him because they felt uncomfortable approaching because of my mother), the path of his own life. He often jokes it’s like “Groundhog’s Day” for him–between caring for her, still working full-time, and also caring for my 92-yr old grandmother.”
“Re: if she’s still there–at this stage, I’d say it’s very difficult to see glimpses of my mother since she is pretty advanced. She’s non verbal, doesn’t really recognize us, is not able to perform most functions on her own. I often joke that while my friends are dealing with the woes of toddlers I’m experiencing the same, just with my mother.”
For wuillermania, the photo has become a way to help educate others about the disease and rally support for organizations that are working towards research for breakthrough treatments and a cure.
One organization doing valuable work that she has supported over the years is the The Alzheimer’s Association.
She wrote, “I will never get over having my mother taken away, but at this stage, I want to do whatever I can to teach people about this disease and hopefully let someone else who’s going through this know they’re not alone.”