Helen Rimell, a professional photographer, documents her mother Susan’s heart-wrenching battle with early-onset vascular dementia through a personal project titled “No Longer Here.” Leaving her London life two years ago to become Susan’s full-time carer, Helen captures the devastating decline in poignant images. The project recently won a grant from the Bob and Diane fund for Alzheimer’s and dementia storytellers. The emotional photos reveal the daily struggles, from broken glass incidents to Susan being spoon-fed, providing an intimate portrayal of dementia’s toll on both patient and caregiver.
A Daughter’s Painful Journey
Helen Rimell, a photojournalist, delves into the heartbreaking reality of dementia by chronicling her mother Susan’s decline through powerful images. The project, titled “No Longer Here,” becomes a deeply personal portrayal of the emotional and physical toll of early-onset vascular dementia.
Susan’s diagnosis in 2015 prompted Helen to become her full-time carer in 2020, abandoning her life in London. The poignant photographs depict everyday struggles, from smashed glass to Susan being spoon-fed. Helen’s project recently received recognition, winning a grant for visual storytellers focused on Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Despite the challenges, Helen, who cherished a close bond with her mother, has no regrets about becoming a full-time caregiver. The project sheds light on the harsh reality of dementia, challenging common perceptions portrayed in films, and highlights the profound impact it has on personalities and relationships.
Candid Moments Amidst Struggle
Helen’s intimate photographs capture small moments of happiness amid the challenges, such as Susan tapping her foot to music. The project, initiated through a shared trust and understanding, reflects the changing dynamics of their relationship as dementia progressively alters Susan’s personality and abilities.
Helen’s decision to document her mother’s journey stems from a longstanding collaborative relationship, where Susan had previously supported Helen’s projects, even posing for a project on obsessive-compulsive disorder. The photographs provide a candid and unfiltered perspective on the impact of dementia on both caregiver and patient.
Helen’s dual role as a caregiver and photographer exemplifies the complexity of balancing personal and professional life. The emotional toll, coupled with the physical and mental challenges, creates a narrative that resonates with many facing similar struggles. The project aims to raise awareness about the often-misunderstood aspects of dementia, transcending cinematic portrayals.