2013 Photo Contest, Daily Life, Stories, 1st prize

Mirella

Photographer

Fausto Podavini

02 July, 2010

Mirella was married to her husband Luigi for over 40 years. At the age of 65, Luigi began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. For six years, Mirella cared for Luigi herself, at home in Rome.

About

Fausto Podavini

His passion for photography began when he was 18, first as assistant and studio photographer, then working on ethnological and social reportage. In 1992, he worked at MIFAV, the ...

Background story

Rome, Italy

Mirella was married to her husband Luigi for over 40 years. At the age of 65, Luigi began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. For six years, Mirella cared for Luigi herself, at home in Rome.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative illness that can affect memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion, and is the most common type of dementia. Over 36 million worldwide people live with dementia, and numbers are increasing as populations age.

For Mirella, it meant that everyday tasks became long and difficult operations involving both of them. At one point Luigi seemed no longer to understand what the cutlery and food set before him were for, and stopped eating. He appeared unable to distinguish between day and night, and his confused body clock—sleeping during the day, and staying awake at night—disrupted Mirella’s daily rhythm, too. After five years of the disease, Luigi no longer recognized his wife. He died in May 2011, with Mirella and their family at his bedside.

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