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McKeefry Banner – January 2017

Irish woman shares emotional story about elderly man with Alzheimer’s who taught her to ‘live by the minute’

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Eimear Farrell and Leo (Picture: Peter Varga/ArtZheimers/Facebook)

AN IRISH woman has shared how an elderly man with Alzheimer’s taught her how to ‘live by the minute’ in an emotive post from Humans of Dublin

Eimear Farrell, founder of ARTzheimers, who work to ‘humanise’ Alzheimer’s through the medium of art, shared her story through photographer Peter Varga’s Facebook photo project.

He created Humans of Dublin to make people more attentive to what is happening with other people around the Irish capital.

Mr Varga moved from Budapest to Dublin seven years ago, fell in love with the city, and now roams Dublin looking for people to photograph and talk to.

“Through this I’ve met so many lovely humans and I’ve had the honour of listening to their wonderful stories,” he said.

“I don’t need to walk hours for a great story, there are so many around us and we walk by them every day not knowing.”

In this photo, Irish woman Ms Farrell shares how she began working with the Alzheimer’s Society and how she spent seven years with one Alzheimer’s patient, Leo.

“I was very close with my grandmother, spending all my weekends at her house. And when she developed Alzheimer’s, we had the pleasure of looking after her in our family home. I was hugely impacted by how her quirky inner Dublin city personality was stripped away and how fast it disappeared.

Eimear Farrell, who founded Artzheimers, shared her story on Humans of Dublin. (Picture: Peter Varga/Facebook)
Eimear Farrell, who founded ARTzheimers, shared her story on Humans of Dublin (Picture: Peter Varga/Facebook)

“After she died, I decided to apply for a case worker’s job with the Alzheimer’s Society. I had no real experience apart from that with my grandmother, but they let me give it a try,” she said.

“Leo was my first case and the most memorable one too. He was an artist with early stage Alzheimer’s, and he was vulnerable and alone. He had never married or had children, so most of his days were spent at home by himself.

“He dedicated every room in the house to his paintings, which spanned over sixty years.

“I spent seven years with Leo, slowly unlocking more and more about his life story. Our Saturdays were made up of trips to different art galleries, and he had a major interest for Pádraig Pearse which would bring back little memories about his years during the rebellion.”

Here, she describes the effect spending so much time with Leo had on her life.

“I knew, dropping him back to his house those evenings, that he would have forgotten completely about our day within five minutes of me leaving.

“That didn’t matter, though. I left him feeling great! Leo hadn’t the ability to think five minutes ago or ahead, so he was left with that feeling, and it put him in a very zen-like state.

“Whenever I was with him, it put me in the same sort of state.

“He taught me a lot about how to be present, and to enjoy life by the minute. When his condition progressed and became more serious the decision was made that he enter into a nursing home where he would be taken care of 24 hours a day. This is when everything changed.”

The second half of this lady’s story about Leo is to be revealed later tonight, which you can catch on the Humans of Dublin Facebook page.

If you want to see more from Humans of Dublin, you can get the book here.

See the full post about Leo below… 

1/2 “I was very close with my grandmother, spending all my weekends at her house. And when she developed Alzheimer’s, we…

Posted by Humans of Dublin on Monday, 6 February 2017

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Erica Doyle Higgins
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Erica Doyle Higgins is a Digital Reporter with The Irish Post. You can follow her on Twitter @EDoyleHiggins

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