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Son’s Photo Essay Shows the Heartbreaking Effect of the Early Onset of Dementia

Jake Heath, a 31-year-old man from Sydney, Australia, described what dementia looks like in a heartbreaking photo series featuring his mom, Jacquie.

At the age of 48, Jacquie showed symptoms of Pick’s disease, which is a form of dementia. Despite showing signs of confusion and emotional changes, doctors misdiagnosed her condition as menopause.

Their family’s painful struggle to cope with Jacquie’s deteriorating condition through the years was clearly shown in the 11 photos he shared on Reddit. Although Jake said that the impact of early onset of dementia was hard on their family, the experience brought them a lot closer.

Know what dementia looks like through Jake’s photo essay.

This was taken in 2005 or so. At this point, Jacquie had Pick’s Disease, but it had been misdiagnosed as menopause. She would be about 48 here.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘On the beach, around 2010. Lots of Jacquie around. She can’t remember too much though.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

 ‘Riding on the back of dad’s bike was one of her favourite things to do. This had to stop in 2011, when a paranoia attack nearly caused an accident.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘Beach-time walks. Weight is falling off. Conversation is non-existent.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘The birth of her first grandchild. She had been looking forward to being a grandmother for years.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘Still knows how to party. #yolo.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘Cuddles with her 14-month-old grandson. He’s very careful with her, knows she’s special.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘She doesn’t walk very much anymore. And she has lost a large amount of weight.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘Fun times at the beach. She’s 58 here. Her eyes aren’t always open, and if they are, she’s staring into the void.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘Sometimes we’ll move her to beanbags on the floor.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

‘She still smiles and laughs sometimes. I have no idea why. I really hope she dies soon.’

mother battles dementia
PHOTO CREDIT: Jake Heath

The Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia refers to the decline in mental ability leading to severe interruption of an individual’s daily life. Because of this condition, a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks is reduced.

When a person suffers from memory loss, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has dementia. Symptoms of the condition vary greatly but at least two core mental functions must be significantly affected in order to be considered dementia. This core mental functions include memory, ability to focus and pay attention, communication and language, visual perception, and reasoning and judgment.

Here are the common symptoms of dementia.

  • Memory loss affecting everyday life
  • Difficulty in planning or solving problems
  • Having a hard time completing familiar tasks
  • Losing track of time and place
  • Difficulty understanding spatial relationships and visual images
  • Difficulty in finding the right words
  • Misplacing objects
  • Trouble in decision-making
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Withdrawal from social activities or work

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