Dementia takes away more than memories.
Shelton resident Patrick Doyle, who was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Lobe dementia at age 53, speaks openly and honestly about the toll the disease has taken on his life — including his career, his normally easy-going personality and, most importantly, on his family.
But, according to Doyle, who is now 58 years-old, it isn’t all about loss.
“Dementia takes away things away from you, but it also accentuates other things and that’s how the photography started,” Doyle said. “My wife will tell you that before I couldnt take a picture to save my life. But after the diagnosis, I started taking pictures — it just came to me, more or less.”
Doyle is using his love of photography to support the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter with a photo show and sale on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Three Bridges Coffeehouse on Howe Avenue. Doyle said he wants to do his part to end Alzheimer’s and all forms of dementia.
“There is no cure and the only way to kick this disease to the curb is for more research,” Doyle said. “It’s so important to me and my family.”
Living with dementia
Doyle, who previously worked as a Registered Nurse for 23 years, said the diagnosis at age 53 was devastating — not just for him but his wife, Darlene, and his daughter, Megan, who was 15 at the time. His family still struggles with the reality of it, he said.
“My daughter and wife are mourning the loss of me because I’m not the same person,” he said.
Doyle’s form of dementia is rare and it wipes out much of his short-term memory, he said. The disease also causes an underlying anxiety and can make him quick to anger or irritation — something which is out of character.
Doyle explains that taking advantage of services and support through the Alzheimer’s Association’s local chapter has been an important part of his journey.
“Anybody going through this, I strongly advise the first thing you do it to contact the Alzheimer’s Association,” Doyle said. “They have so many resources.”
Doyle now wears a bracelet around his wrist — provided for free from the Alzheimer’s Association — it includes his name and has contact information, in case he becomes lost or confused. It’s a comfort to him and his family to have those tools available, he said.
He attends a support group in Hamden, comprised of others dealing with early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. It helps to talk with other people who can relate. It’s something he urges anyone dealing with a similar diagnosis to do.
“You think you can handle it by yourself but you can’t,” he said.
Doyle has a hard time choosing his favorite photographs, but the subject matter ranges from shots of nature, skylines and antique cars.
He has narrowed down the selection for the upcoming fundraising sale.
“I photograph just about everything,” he said.
Those who want to see his work and support the cause can come to the event on Saturday, August 25 from 3 to 5 p.m at Three Bridges Coffeehouse located in the Conti Building, 415 Howe Ave, Shelton.
To raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, Doyle will be selling his 5×7 prints for $6 and 8×10 prints for $10. There will also be a donation box available during the sale.
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, visit ALZ.org or call the 24/7 hotline at 800-272-3900.