Artist Documents Heartbreaking Struggle with Alzheimer’s Through Self-Portraits

Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. Unlike most illnesses that wreak havoc on the body, it destroys the mind–wiping out a person’s memory bit by bit.

For American artist William Utermohlen, receiving the disturbing diagnosis at age 61 prompted him to document the illness through a serious of self-portraits. In a way, these visual renderings turned out to be a way for him to try and comprehend how Alzheimer’s was affecting his psyche.

Like a constant shadow hanging over him, Utermohlen illustrated his terrifying, exhausting and all-consuming condition during the first years of his diagnosis before being admitted to a nursing home.

In the images above, you can see how he struggled to stay grounded with reality as a whole, including his sense of self.

Although Utermohlen died in 2007, his self-portraits survive as a way for others to grasp the devastating effects of this irreversible disease.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, with more than five million Americans living with the illness. There is currently no cure.

Do you know anyone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia?

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