ATLANTA (OCTOBER 14, 2014)— In honor of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) Awareness Month, the Lewy Body Dementia Association proudly unveils, “The Profiles of LBD,” a portrait series of families living with the disease. Taken by world-renowned professional photographer, Robert Whitman, the series encapsulates the love between those afflicted with LBD and their caregivers, despite the struggles they face together every day managing a relatively unknown, yet very common, form of dementia. Following Alzheimer’s disease, LBD is the second most common cause of progressive dementia, affecting 1.4 million Americans.
Whitman is a New York City photographer highly sought-after by top magazines, major creative advertising agencies in Manhattan, and Hollywood celebrities for his innate ability to capture rare, intimate moments that tell compelling stories. Whitman’s work has been featured in magazines such as Departures, Travel + Leisure, Cosmopolitan, and Self. He photographed performances of the Pilobolus dance company for many years, and captured rare images of a young Prince and also Mikhail Baryshnikov. Actor Viggo Mortensen has published a book of Whitman’s photos.
When approached by Manhattan creative agency Circle R to help the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) raise LBD awareness through their “LEWY WHO?” campaign, Whitman was so moved by the effects of disease and the efforts of the organization, he volunteered his talent to create a portrait gallery highlighting the many faces of LBD.
When setting up to shoot, Whitman takes an observational approach to ensure the comfort of individuals with LBD and their caregivers and families in homes, assistive living facilities and other environments. He seldom preplans poses or uses artificial lighting, and employs a quick shot strategy. “I try to bring out what it’s like to be alive,” says Whitman. “”I think that is the common thread in all of my photos.”
Through this photographic experience, Whitman admits that he has learned much about love and the closeness developed among families during the LBD journey. “I’d never even heard of Lewy body disease prior to this experience,” Whitman says. “And when I tell others about what I’ve been doing and how those tender moments from the shoots have touched me, they are supportive but say they too have never heard of the disease.”
So far, Whitman has captured 11 LBD families around the US in his portrait series. You can see more of the Robert Whitman, “Profiles of LBD” Collection here. His work will be highlighted throughout October at LBD Awareness Month events organized by LBDA volunteers throughout the country. LBDA will continue to incorporate the photos into its website, informational brochures and other materials to showcase real people with this very real disease. Robert Whitman has pledged to expand the Profiles of LBD portrait series through the coming year.
Support for People with LBD, Caregivers and Families
With symptoms that resemble both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, LBD is the most misdiagnosed form of dementia. Therefore, education about LBD is urgently needed.
The Lewy Body Dementia Association offers individuals with LBD, caregivers and families a range of information, resources and support. Explains Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital, and Elliott Professor of Neurology, “Caring for LBD is especially resource intense (and may be greater than in Alzheimer’s disease) because of the challenge to the provider and caregiver of treating problems created by the combination of cognitive impairment and parkinsonism, which occurs in most affected patients with LBD.” Newcomers to LBD find solace and support through LBDA’s vibrant online community of caregivers. People help one another effectively cope with this devastating disease by sharing concerns, questions and experiences through LBDA’s discussion forums and social networks.
About Lewy Body Dementia Association
The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit health organization dedicated to raising awareness of Lewy body dementia (LBD), promoting scientific advances, and supporting people with LBD, their families and caregivers. LBD, a complex disease that can present with a range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms, is a “family disease.” It dramatically affects not only the person diagnosed but also the primary caregiver. LBDA supports all those affected by Lewy body dementia through outreach, education and research. To learn more about LBD and LBDA, please visit www.lbda.org/lewywho.
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