Mirjana Miljković (HR), Neven Sviben (HR) Alzheimer – the Human Face of Dementia

Installation, 2013

The Alzheimer – the Human Face of Dementia project is a synthesis of all the things we do – in poetry, prose, photography, video and public appearances we tell of our mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Our mother, Marija Milković (84) has suffered from Alzheimer’s dementia for eight years. We care for her at home; the last two years, she has lived without complications because we, her caregivers, have learned to provide her excellent care. We want to stand out against the prevailing nihilism and cynicism, the view of the “pointlessness of a useless life”. In photographs and video records we show that our mother has retained her beauty, the expressiveness of her face and the curiosity of her eyes, that she expresses emotion and that her life (like that of course of all other people) is valuable, wanting in this way to encourage a more humane attitude to age and sickness. Our basic principle derives from the teaching of neurologist and psychiatrist Dr Viktor E. Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz. He knows too well what it means to be useless and what kind of danger is hidden in the apathy of society. But today’s society is characterised by the focus on achievement, and adores those who are successful and happy, and particularly worships the young. It literally ignores the value of all those who are different and thus blurs the crucial border between the individual’s value in the sense of dignity and the individual’s value in the sense of usefulness. If someone is not aware of this difference and considers that the individual’s value derives only from his current usefulness, then, believe me, it is only out of personal inconsistency that he is not advocating euthanasia in the sense of Hitler’s programme, the mercy killing of all those who have ceased to be socially useful, whether because of age, or incurable sickness, or mental decline or any other kind of handicap from which they suffer. (From the book Humanity’s Quest for Meaning, Planetopija, Zagreb, 2010, p. 137)

Mirjana Miljković (HR)

Mirjana Miljković is a teacher of Croatian, living in Zagreb. She is a published and prize-winning poet, as well as a photographer, hiker and healer. She publishes in literary journals and collections. Soon her first collection of poems will be published.


Neven Sviben (HR)

Neven Sviben was born in Zagreb. By training he is an information technology specialist, a computer network expert, but because of sickness of members of the family he also undertook extra training as a caregiver. He works as a professional caregiver. He is a lover of mountains and photography, and an online activist. He is an active member of the Croatian survival in nature forum.