A New Way of Looking at Alzheimer’s

October 28, 2009 at 8:41 am , by

I STILL DO-coverChances are you know someone whose family is coping with Alzheimer’s disease. More than 5 million Americans have it. For the millions who are caregivers, it’s normal to feel anger, denial, depression or worse. Many of them probably don’t want to be reminded that November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

“But this disease has been in the closet too long,” says Southern California photographer Judith Fox, whose new book, I Still Do: Loving and Living with Alzheimer’s, is an inspiration. She wants to remove the stigma and sense of isolation so many families feel.

Just three years into her marriage to Dr. Edmund Ackell, a multi-talented man who was a surgeon, pilot, artist, athlete and university administrator, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For years, Fox had to see the man who’d wielded a scalpel or a basketball with utter confidence forget how to use the coffeemaker or recall what someone just said to him. But instead of falling into despair, Fox decided to capture the still-very-much-intact soul of the man she loves in luminous, funny, charming and heartbreaking photos. It was another way of loving him and touching him, she explains.

“Why do family caregivers do what we do?” she asks about this devastating disease in the video below. “Because it’s a privilege to help somebody,” she says.. “We can do no less.”

Fox is brave. It took me years to be able to talk or write about the caregiving journey I took with my father during his long illness. And I wish I’d had more practical resources like Leeza’s Place, founded by TV celeb Leeza Gibbons during her caregiving experiences with her mom.

But I now see how much I learned from that time in my life and how it helped me grow. Fox’s beautiful book I Still Do is a powerful reminder that love can endure—no matter what.

6 Responses to “A New Way of Looking at Alzheimer’s”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gina Roberts-Grey, Julie Bain. Julie Bain said: My blog about a brave book with amazing photos: http://bit.ly/1vx6Ql [...]

  2. What a great service to show a different side of Alzheimer’s, expressed so deeply and lovingly through these photos and words. Anyone who has gone through this knows how scary it is to see a loved one slip away. The love is always still there…the photos speak volumes!

  3. Excellent post. Sad that so many are going to be facing this.

  4. I wish you success with your book, Ms. Fox, and I offer my sympathy for the pain both you and Dr. Ackell are suffering. But I must tell you I was horrified to see the full page color photo of Dr. Ackell in the Richmond magazine. I feel that exposure of a man who was once an important member of our community has robbed him of his dignity. Your photos should have been reserved for your book and not published for the entire community to see.

  5. Bravo To Judith Fox for her beautiful, brave, compassionate book, “I Still Do”. As a daughter of Alzheimer’s, I agree we must de-stigmatize this disease. Fox makes huge strides to do that. As the co-founder of Leeza’s Place (leezasplace.org) I agree that caregivers often feel isolated, stressed and depressed. That is why we do what we do at our foundation to empower and help those who help others. I was so touched by Judith and Edmunds love story because I believe a heart never forgets. Thank you for sharing your talent and your story Judith…I was deeply moved and grateful to have your voice in this cause. Thanks to Julie Bains, the author of this blog for the shout-out for Leeza’s Place! LHJ is fantastic! I really love the Ladlies Lounge.! BTW, if anyone is looking for a caregiver resource, our book ‘Take Your Oxygen First” gives our family’s point of view, the medical point of view (Dr. Rosemary Laird) and the psychological p.o.v. (Dr. James Huysman)

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