Memory or reality - picture taking


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
All through Jan's illness I have continued to take pictures of her at various times.

Some people have said "I don't know how you can do that, it is cruel! I want to remember her as she was"

My view is that it is the illness that is devastatingly cruel. Jan is as she is now, never again to be as she was. One has to come to terms with that if one wants to continue to care for her on a daily basis.

Those that only want to remember the not-so-distant past ignore her needs now and withdraw from seeing her at all, for whatever reason. Seems to me that this satisfies their wishes to live in a world of make-believe, at the risk of being rather selfish.

I am so proud of Jan for the stoic way she has adapted herself - even if this is an unconscious thing - that I want to remember her not only as she was, but as she is, and as she will be later.

What do others think?


Registered User
Apr 1, 2003
Hi Brucie,

I agree. The avoidance of my dad's illness has always suprised me. The only person that I talk to about it is my mum who needs so much support. Everyone else says "hows your dad doing these days" and when I start to tell them any details they just kind of go blank and you start to wonder why they asked. So I keep it brief now "much the same" seems to satisfy most people.

Anyway, down to your question. I try to take as many photos as possible of both my mum and dad, not for me as much but my young daughter who seems to have an incredible understanding of my dads "forgetfull" condition. And I hope to continue to do so. I want her to remember the good times and remember dad as he is now and more importantly the happiness that they still bring to each other. So I'm with you on this.

A lot of people told me not to discuss my dads illness with my daughter, but I really think they were wrong. Even at a young age she knows how to care and make allowances (OK well not all the time). And in many years time when she has more understanding, she will have some photos to jog those memories about her "forgetfull" but "very funny" grandad.



Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Children are able to accept these things as normal much better than adults can. My two nieces visited Jan and were absolutely fine about it.

The photos can also be useful in other ways, since they show the change in condition of a patient.

In Jan's case, the photos I take of her now show her far better looking than she was when she entered the home.

I had been feeding her at home until then and as a by product matched her meals, as she ate less and less, myself - so we both lost a lot of weight. Jan looked very gaunt two years ago, but now looks quite normal again.

Me? I've never managed to put that weight back, despite eating more than normally now.


Registered User
Dec 22, 2003
Hello Bruce,

Just read your message and agree with you about taking photos etc. My mother is in her 5th year in an emi ward/nursing home and we have taken several photos over these years. The most precious photo I have is the last photo taken of mum and dad together three years ago, dad died shortly after but that photo is very dear to me.

It was my mother's 79th birthday today, and when I went to see her she was having her hair done, she looked so cute under the dryer! I realise how much I love her. Hopefully somewhere in there she knows who I am. I live in hope!

I am thankful that she is well looked after and like Jan, she was very gaunt 3 years ago after being neglected in the first home. However, she is now looking very good and although on a peg feed, has even put weight on!

Something else I wanted to mention. I agree that those people who will not visit because they 'want to remember her the way she was' are just making excuses. It upsets me that when she does eventually pass away, they will probably be at her funeral. It's actually here and now that they are needed. It would certainly help me if more friends/relatives visited her.

Kind regards,



Registered User
Apr 1, 2003
Hi Adele,

why do people seem to avoid these kind of situations. Only a few moments of their time can make a lot of difference. If people can get over feeling a little uncomfortable with a situation, they can make a lot of difference (oh and help at the same time). I just get miffed when a lot of people keep making excuses for not dealing with the important stuff. Sorry for the late evening rant ;-)

Kind Regards


Registered User
Aug 18, 2003
east sussex
Hi there Bruce,Adele and Charlie,
Thank you for your posting - it made me realise that i was not alone - my 2 brothers and my sister have not visited my dad now for several months - in fact 1 brother has not seen my dad since he went into hospital 3 1/2 years ago!!!
I really don't know how they can do it to him and mum - they seldom get to see her either and they all live less than 2 hours away.
Yes i get angry, with them but can't bring myself to say anything - i know there is nil response when we see dad now, but i feel that he knows we are there - i go at least every week - more often when i can - why do families have have to be so cruel??
This site has been a saviour for me, knowing i am not alone - i also pass alot of the info to my mum.
Take care all of you Susan


Registered User
Oct 17, 2003
Hi Charlie

I really do agree with you about children. My son Chris is 10 and his Mamma has lived with us since he was 18 months old and she was fit and well. He has seen her go downhill and experienced her odd behaviour and borne the brunt of it too....He is very understanding and kind and we often have a laugh at some of the things mamma has done and discuss the things she would have done had she stayed well. He also comes with me to the home once a week where he manages about an hour before getting bored! I think this is so important, he sees the other residents with all their problems and the kindness with which they are treated. I hope it will help him grow up into a considerate adult with proper respect for older people amd make hime relaise that there is more in the world to worry about than where the next pair of trainers is coming form.

How I also agree with the comment about well meaning enquiries as to mum's welfare, how can I tell the truth, I to have just started to say, about the same, as well as......