Ever Present
 

Every household is faced with obstacles, every marriage attempts to withstand through hardships. Every memory made along the way will help strengthen their relationships. In every sixty seconds that a memory can be made, an individual in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while their caretaker begins to suffer from its side effects.

 

The project Ever Present follows the journey of my grandmother who assumed the responsibility of being the sole caretaker for my grandfather for over a decade. At eighty-six years old, after sixty-five years of marriage, she finds herself unable to maintain the household without the help of her husband. While grappling with losing the connection to her soulmate, she struggles with his physical absence as well.

 

 
 
 
Once a man twice a baby is the old saying.
Then I had a functioning man, but now I have a non-functional child.
— Eva Williams
 
 

My grandparents were born in 1931. They are both 86 years old. They have known each other for 70 years. They have been married for 65 years. They have been living in the same house for 56 years. They have been living together in Washington, D.C., for 32 years. With all of that time in the past it is expected to forget some things, overlook certain pastimes, fail to remember distant events. Unfortunately, my grandfather can barely remember me, his own granddaughter. My grandfather has been living with Alzheimer’s for eight years now. So has the rest of my family, most notably my grandmother. She has taken the role of sole caretaker for him, and while trying to ensure he has more days to come she is struggling with the days she feels she has lost. No matter how many weeks pass we do not have what some may call the bliss of ignorance, to evade this unfortunate circumstance. Partly because we see his mind grow foggier every day, but mostly because I cannot count how many times in one conversation my grandfather asks me, “Is this my house?”

 

 

 

More than five million individuals are living around the world with Alzheimer’s. More than five million families are faced with a decision on the best possible care for their loved one. About 10 percent of caretakers for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia are a spouse.  These caregivers are four times more likely to be considered higher-hour caregivers than any other demographic (parent, child, close friend). After celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary this year, it is hard to measure the amount my grandparents have taken turns taking care of each other; however, it is clear now exactly where that responsibility lies. If you were to ask my grandmother, she would say without hesitation, with God. In each and every family that deals with an ill relative it takes a strong sense of faith in something to withstand the hard times that they are sure to face. In my grandmother’s case, she finds faith in God, just as she swore faith before Him and her husband to remain loyal, “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health.”