Faces of Alzheimer’s Memory Wall
Debbie Heller who was caregiver for her mother volunteered to build the Wall.
The following are her thoughts as published in our July 1998 newsletter:
In August 1997, Alzheimer’s Arkansas began to collect photographs for a display, which would pay tribute to individuals from many walks of life who were affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Our goal was to portray Alzheimer’s and related dementia patients as ordinary people; to show that these diseases can and do affect simple, everyday men and women. What we got from their caregivers and family members was much more.Last year when I decided to tackle the project of the Faces of Alzheimer’s Memory Wall display, I had some preconceived notions of what working on this project would be like. I was mostly concerned with the “hows” of this venture – how would the pictures be attached to the board so that they could eventually be moved around; how would we have enough photographs and biographies to make a decent presentation; how could we make a board portable so that it could be taken to health fairs and the Annual Walks; how could we use essentially inexpensive materials to put together a display that maintained the dignity the concept deserved?
I expected to hear a lot of pain in the descriptions of these Alzheimer’s patients. How painful and terrifying it is to see a formerly active individual lose their ability inch by inch, day by day. Instead I was introduced to some extraordinary folks by some very loving spouses, children, grandchildren, nieces, etc.
While I was worried about the logistics of the display, family members were putting together some of the most loving tributes imaginable. Some talked about careers or interests or skills. Some had a funny story to tell or a life’s history in just a few words. But all did so with so much warmth, compassion and caring I was astonished. These people became not victims of a deadly disease, but people who had lived very full lives in the cradle of loving, accepting families.
By the time the display was finished, I felt as if I had made a whole new set of friends – both the Alzheimer’s patients themselves and those caregivers who had graciously taken time to memorialize their loved ones, and I was honored to have met them.
The Wall Continues to Grow
If you would like for us to include a photo of your loved one, living or deceased, on our Memory Wall, call the office and request a form. We ask that you complete the form, giving us permission to display the photo, and tell us something about the person. The Wall is on display at all of our Walks, conferences and other presentations. Download the Memory Wall Form here (PDF)