An Image as a Metaphor for Dementia

alz.quiltWatching a much-loved family member’s gradual memory decline brings with it great sadness. We observe vast amounts of knowledge and personal connection — the inner light of an individual — disconnecting and disappearing.

Recently I spent a morning looking at an amazing quilt exhibit at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC).

The quilter, Anne Miller, created exquisite patterns, and images, and I walked up and down the hallway looking at them over and over. One quilt especially caught my attention created in response to the her husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I snapped a picture of it — I was so moved by its light and color shooting out in all directions — and I wrote to Anne Miller asking if I might use my picture here on

The quilt, a wall hanging, depicts the fracturing of light with beautiful, brightly colored pieces moving outward but seemly disconnected. To me it aptly illustrated how the brain’s functioning, as individual’s memory declines, breaks into small, seemingly unrelated pieces. As person declines, and the pieces do not fit together, yet I noted how, in a way, this image illustrated the beauty and richness that once existed in the brain.

When I ask Anne Miller for a comment about her creation, she wrote:

I realized that I could use my creations to express my pain and sadness as well as joy, beauty, love and happiness. In designing the quilt I considered calling it “Fractured Light, Fractured Life” but felt that might be redundant. I did want to show that something that had once been whole could fracture and become bits and pieces with no hope of being restored in this lifetime. Alzheimer’s has a way of changing life so completely.


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