What do dementia faces look like

The characteristic black and white portraits are arranged in two rows on the walls in the foyer of the Ebersberg District Office. They were hung up at eye level so that the viewer immediately stands face to face with the people and the expressive emotions on their faces absorb them. Otherwise, the arrangement is kept simple: consistently white passe-partouts and light wooden frames prevent the viewer from wandering - and that's right.

Because in the district office Ebersberg the photo exhibition "God's images - insights into the living worlds of demented people" will take place from March 5th to 12th. the Office for Food, Agriculture and Forests and the district was initiated. The aim is to draw the public's attention to the problem of the disease dementia and to ensure greater acceptance in society. In addition, those affected and their relatives should be helped, says Christine Deyle from Caritas.

In order to develop more tolerance for this sensitive topic, openness is of the utmost importance. Visitors to the exhibition experience this in the portraits of Thomas Braner, who, together with the pastoral care worker and pastor Elisabeth Öxler, visited and photographed residents of the "Haus Elisabeth", a diaconal care facility in Puchheim, suffering from dementia for months.

The pictures touch the heart because they are authentic and radically honest. They are as different as the sick themselves, because dementia has many faces. One portrait shows irrepressible anger, while in another the person concerned laughs from the bottom of her heart. But scenes from everyday life have also been photographed, for example a lady is shown washing dishes while her cuddly toy observes the scenery from the background. Another two-part series of images shows the moment of recognition, the change from uncertainty and confusion to the certainty of who is standing in front of you.

Most of the portraits are very emotional. They show those affected who sit there crying with a handkerchief, play the harmonica with unspeakably sad eyes or just stare impassively in front of themselves. But there are also others who laugh, are happy, stick their tongue out at the viewer or grin mischievously at him.

Such an easy and happy way of dealing with the disease is desirable. Christine Deyle knows, however, that it is difficult for those affected, especially in the early stages of the disease, when they understand what is happening to them. "People are afraid because they know that the disease is not yet curable and they fear the loss of skills and status. There is also uncertainty about how those around them will react and how far they will change themselves," says Deyle. It is best to deal openly with the disease so as not to be left alone with your own fears.

For the initiators of the theme week, this is also a reason that dementia should be considered in all its facets in society, so that those affected and their relatives do not feel ashamed, but rather feel taken seriously. The week on the topic of dementia with numerous events is a step in this direction.

The exhibition can be seen until Monday, March 12, in the district office during opening hours. On this Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., a lecture will provide information about the path to a dementia-friendly community in the Hermann-Beham-Saal in the district office. A lecture at 2 p.m. in the AWO senior center in Markt Schwaben will be about various support options for family carers in home care and in the nursing home. The day care in Grafing introduces itself from 4.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Further information on the topic week dementia at www.kbw-ebersberg.de.