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These Photos Show The Heartbreaking Progression Of Early-Onset Dementia

"When mum got the disease, it gave us a chance to love her the way she had loved us,” her son said.

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Jack Heath recently woke up from a nightmare where his mother, Jacqueline, had died. He immediately knew he needed to create a photoseries documenting the progression of his mother's illness, Pick's Disease, a form of early-onset Dementia.

Image courtesy of Jake Heath

"It was one of those hideously emotional dreams," he told BuzzFeed. "So I made a post, just trying to get it out of my system. I didn’t expect it to go anywhere."

The post has gone viral and is now at the top of Reddit.

The photo above was taken around 2005. The caption reads, "At this point, Jacquie had Pick's Disease, but it had been misdiagnosed as menopause. She would be about 48 here."

"In the beginning of the disease, when she had about 70% of her cognitive ability left, we found it very important to make her feel useful," he said.

Image courtesy of Jake Heath

Here, Jake's father and Jacquie's husband, Tim Heath; Jake's sister, Zoe Sherwin; and Jaquie are at the beach in 2010. "Lots of Jacquie around. She can't remember too much though," the caption reads.

Soon after, his family noticed that everyday adventures needed to dwindle down.

Image courtesy of Jake Heath

This photo was also taken in 2010. She loved riding with her husband on his motorcycle. In 2011, "an on-bike paranoia attack nearly caused an accident," and she could no longer risk going out on the motorcycle.

Soon, Jacquie's weight began to rapidly decrease. "It’s important to cherish every day and to look for the silver linings. In our case, the silver lining was that the rest of my family became a lot closer," Jake said.

Image courtesy of Jake Heath

Here they are again on the beach not much later, and "conversation is non-existent."


Soon, it became hard for her to keep her eyes open at all times. At this point, there is a stark contrast between this and the first photo.

Eventually, her ability to walk nearly ceased, and she continued to lose weight.

Image courtesy of Jake Heath

As more and more people saw these images, more and more users began to share their stories. Jake told BuzzFeed, "The reception has been powerful. So many people have reached out and said they’ve been through the same thing."


His advice to families going through the same thing is "to make as many happy memories as possible. There were a few particular stages we’ve gone through, and in each one we’ve had to adapt our behaviour to keep mum happy and calm."

Image courtesy of Jake Heath

Here she is lying on bean bags on the floor. "I don’t know what I would want to say to someone with dementia, however I can say that when mum got the disease, it gave us a chance to love her the way she had loved us," he said.

Jacquie is laughing in this final photo, a sight rarely seen. "It’s important to focus on your own mental health and well-being, to keep you out of the depression and find the strength to go on," he said.

Image courtesy of Jake Heath

He captioned his final photo, "I really hope she dies soon," which many readers were shocked to see.

But after watching a loved one suffer for so long, Jake said it's hard to want them to continue their state of decline.

“Many people agreed with that, and it sparked a debate about euthanasia, and how bad health must get if you would rather see your loved one die than continue living," Jake told BuzzFeed.

"The memories may fade in someone with dementia, but they will live on in the memories of their family and friends," Jake said.

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He made this video of his family and Jacquie last year to raise awareness about dementia.