It can be painful to watch the change in Alzheimer’s sufferers, so when Tokyo-based photographer Akiko DuPont‘s 94-year-old grandfather Jiji was diagnosed several years ago, she was naturally concerned.
“I think when you learn that you have Alzheimer’s, it is easy to start feeling scared, lonely, sad and lost,” DuPont shared. “I saw that in him. He tried to hide it, but I could see it. He was still Jiji, a loving man. But he gradually began to make a wall between himself and other people.”
Luckily, an unexpected bond has helped Jiji bring down that wall. Kinako was just a small kitten when DuPont brought him to their home, and although Jiji had always been an animal lover, he’d only own dogs. DuPont wasn’t sure how he’d take to their new housemate, so at first she kept Kinako tucked away in her room.
“I actually didn’t get any permission and first hid him in my room,” DuPont said. “Then grandpa wandered in and saw 4-month-old Kinako — and his eyes shined full of happiness. It was something I hadn’t seen in a while.” And there, a beautiful friendship was born.
Pets have been shown to help Alzheimer’s patients with anxiety and depression, and Jiji’s new friend is clearly helping him. Now, they’re always together, whether napping in the same position or Kinako assisting in Jiji’s favorite activity—clipping newspaper articles.
DuPont picked up her camera to document Jiji and Kinako’s life together, capturing the touching tale of their unbreakable bond. Whether checking in on each other to be sure they’re having a good day or playfully arguing over Kinako’s habit of sitting on Jiji’s newspapers, theirs is a relationship that’s enhanced both their lives.