Alzheimer's is one of the most prevalent — and as of yet, incurable — diseases to afflict the older population. As the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., many Americans are firsthand witnesses of a loved one's heartbreaking deterioration.
In a post on Reddit and Imgur, Joe Fraley showed the harrowing effects of the disease on a person's physical appearance and how it affects those close to the patient as well.
He posted a before-and-after photo of his mother being diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
The pictures were taken a year and a half apart, he detailed on the Reddit post.
Alzheimer's causes the brain to shrink dramatically, and over time the patient loses both memories and the ability to think, plan and perform. The disease is the leading cause of dementia in older people and an estimated 5.3 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer's.
It's a terrifying number, and though researchers are trying to develop medication and early detection methods, there is currently no cure, prevention or method to delay it.
Fraley also posted photos of his father, before and after his mom's diagnosis.
He wrote in the Imgur post, "Alzheimer's not only affects the people who have it, but their loved ones as well."
The disease has a massive impact on those close to the patient — family, friends and caregivers alike. The grief, anger, helplessness and loss that people experience when seeing someone they care being consumed by the disease can have severe effects on themselves, too.
So the rare moments of lucidity that an Alzheimer's patient has is both precious and treasured. Those who commented on Fraley's Reddit post expressed deep sadness at his and their own experiences, so Fraley responded in the comments with an earlier video of him singing to his mom, before she moved into an assisted living facility.
The video is incredibly moving and their small conversation towards the end even more so.
"I love you," she tells him. "You have a nice face and a pretty smile, and you're a nice person."