Gallery captures kupuna perspective, framing life with Alzheimer’s, dementia

An estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a progressively debilitating disease that steals one’s memory, but not one’s will to live.

It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case, even a thousand words isn’t nearly enough.

Eight framed photos tell a beautiful story of a special kupuna.

One of them is Eddie Sakai.

We first met Uncle Eddie last summer. The 85-year-old is living with Alzheimer’s, but photographer Glenn Nishida refused to let his uncle’s memory fade without sharing his story. Every day, he takes a picture of Uncle Eddie and posts it on Instagram.

Today Uncle Eddie is a social media celebrity.

Several weeks ago, Nishida had a vision with Uncle Eddie in mind.

“Since I’m a photographer, maybe I’ll give Uncle a camera and take him out shooting with me,” he said.

Nishida then expanded his photography class to include other kupuna.

Fujifilm USA donated the Instamatic cameras and Nishida gave a short class on photography and composition to the seniors, many who are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. He explained how to use the cameras and then turned them loose.

“They gave us a camera to take, so I took a picture of the flower. I saw the car so I took a picture of the car,” said student Takako Umamoto.

Nishida was blown away with the priceless images they produced. Their photos were framed and are now a part of mini gallery.

“My father was a photographer, so I used to develop negatives, print pictures, and hang them on the wall. I used to color the pictures and everything,” Umamoto said.

“Photography for her was like brought her back to her youth, and she told me yeah, it brings me back. It reminds me when I was young,” Nishida said.

They say art imitates life. It can also be healing and therapeutic.

“It doesn’t matter how short their memories are. You just give them a little attention, because they live in the moment, that they can produce amazing work like this. I’m just so blown away,” Nishida said.

Art and life though the eyes of a generation that still has much to share and memories to make.

‘Just Push the Button’

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