Jan. 20, 2020: “My father is sitting exhausted on the wheelchair in the early morning; waiting to make his bed after cleaning it.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)
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Jalal Shamsazaran’s father was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease more than five years ago. “I found out that it’s inherited in our family,” the Iranian photographer said. “My grandfather had Alzheimer’s, my father had Alzheimer’s, and my aunt also has Alzheimer’s.” So when Shamsazaran decided to photograph his father’s struggles with the degenerative disease, he did it with the expectation that he might be documenting the changes in behavior and personality that he may, one day, experience himself. “Maybe it can be said that I am somehow photographing myself,” he said.

Shamsazaran’s images, which chronicled the last years of his father’s life before his death in early 2020, have been selected as this year’s recipient of the Bob and Diane Fund, a grant designed to promote work “that increases the understanding of the disease and inspires research to end it,” said Gina Martin, the fund’s creator.

“Jalal captures his father’s decline into dementia until his death with such tenderness and respect,” she added. “His beautiful black-and-white images with his distinct style and voice shows the power of visual storytelling.”

For Shamsazaran, the grant is another opportunity to raise awareness about the disease, which affects more than 50 million people in the world, and 750,000 in Iran alone. “Any father with Alzheimer’s can be my father, and I am the child of all of them,” Shamsazaran said.


Jan. 17, 2020: “The slim hands of my father rest on blanket as he sleeps. These hands are part of our country’s history to me and they make me to remember the hardships he went through for his family.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

Dec. 31, 2019: “As he loses his awareness, my father prefers to sleep more.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

April 14, 2018: “My mother is preparing my father's morning medicines. With the economic sanctions on Iran, the cost of drugs, medical supplies and services has doubled, which adds a heavy burden on families.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

April 2, 2018: “My father used to come to Lake Urmia every summer. Over the years, the water has dried up, and in recent years, as Alzheimer has taken its toll, he repeats the same question: 'Where has all this water gone?’ ” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

Jan. 4, 2020: “My father's coat hangs on a snowy night. My father has not been able to go outside of the house for two weeks.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

March 12, 2019: “My dad is sleeping more these days. He only watches television while at home, often the Baku channel, which broadcasts Azerbaijani music.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

June 5, 2019: “While people gather for dinner on a summer night, my father likes to stay inside and watch TV. The noise and the crowd bother him.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

Dec. 1, 2019: “My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer five years ago. This year, he has completely lost his short-term memory.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

Dec. 11, 2019: “Helen, four years old, drew a picture and wanted to show it to my father.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

Jan. 21, 2020: "My father is reflected in the mirror next to a photo of my grandmother. A few hours later, he departed his life.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

Feb. 13, 2020: “On a snowy day, we are visiting my father’s grave. My sister is holding a photo of him in her hands.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

Feb. 13, 2020: “My mother is praying for my father.” (Jalal Shamsazaran/NVPImages)

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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