“Taking Care” is a series intimately covering the lives of caregivers and the people they care for. This month’s edition is on Parkinson’s Disease+ READ ARTICLE
When Eleanor Copeman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, an incurable condition that gradually attacks the nervous system and impairs even simple movements, family life for the Copemans changed forever. The vibrant, joyful matriarch who loved cooking for her family became dependent on her husband Douglas and daughter Tammy for everything from preparing meals to getting dressed.
Now, almost a decade later, Eleanor also has dementia, which strikes 50-80% of people with Parkinson’s. The physical and emotional burdens of caretaking fall to the family.
“Physically, taking care of someone with Parkinson’s is intense—you have to be on 24/7,” Tammy Copeman tells photographer Abby Kraftowitz, who has been documenting the Copemans’ lives since 2012. “I think it’s just a whole different level of love and loving your family.”
Douglas says he chose to take care of Eleanor at home to honor a promise he made to her 51 years ago when they first married.
Kraftowitz’s work offers a deep look into life inside one household touched by this chronic disease.