THE WOODLANDS, Texas – A photographer whose mom suffers from Alzheimer’s plans to open a gallery to raise awareness of the condition and its impact on caregivers.
Some memories fit in albums and make you smile.
However, when you’re married for 56 years, confined to a home half the size of a three-car garage and feeding your spouse who can’t speak or remember all the good times, all memories seem sweeter than ice cream.
“(My wife) was sitting on the couch one day and she looked at me and she says 'Will you marry me?'” Tony Soord said. “That was the last time I remember her saying (anything.)”
Alzheimer’s seized Lillian Soord’s mind 11 years ago, right before retirement and plans to globe trot with her 79-year-old soul mate, Tony.
Instead, she needs feeding and around-the-clock care. Despite breaking bones while helping his wife get around, Tony believes the job is his and no one else's.
“When you take the vows, it’s in health or sickness,” Soord said. “So in sickness, I have to take care of her.”
He admits it is stressful work. He’s also far from alone. Nearly six of ten Alzheimer patient caregivers live with high stress, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The group claims four of ten caregivers suffer depression. One in five even quits going to see his or her own doctor because of the care giving responsibilities, the group’s website said.
“I think (my mom will) be happy being the star of the show,” Sherina Welch, the Soord’s daughter,
In order to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, Welch documented a day in her parent’s life.
It’s called The Forgotten Project and consists of more than 20 photographs that will be displayed in Houston’s Jack Meier art gallery next Thursday.
She hopes people who see the project understand the struggle and prepare themselves just in case it happens to them or someone they love.
“Life can throw a curve ball and you’re stuck like this,” Welch said. “This is nobody’s plan. You know, this is their retirement. This is it. It’s not traveling anymore. It’s this.”
Though it is not the Soord’s dream, Tony considers his new job a labor of love.
The Forgotten Project opens October 20, 2016 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. at the Jack Meier Gallery.