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Photographer comes out of retirement to pay for wife's Alzheimer's care

John Ross and his wife, Lisa
Posted at 4:20 PM, Sep 05, 2023

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John Ross and his wife, Lisa, joke that they're attached at the hip.

The two have been married for 31 years. At one time, they worked together at their company, Phoenix Photography.

"She ran the company, she ran the business, and I was just the technical person who did all the camera work," John said.

John Ross, Phoenix Photography

But he had to take on more work at the studio when Lisa was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2020.

John said he noticed symptoms as early as 2018 but didn't know what was going on.

"As this developed, we had to close," John said. "I couldn’t do everything, and it was a huge emotional adjustment for me."

It was also a big financial adjustment.

"When you need to get a caregiver, you’re looking at somewhere in the vicinity of $600 a week," John said.

That's why he had to pick up his camera, come out of retirement and once again open the doors to their photography studio.

Doctor's orders state Lisa can't be left alone.

However, their studio is conveniently attached to their home.

"There’s a number of things that I need to cover and take care of, our bills, and keep her here," John said. "We’ve been in this house for 30 years now, so I want her to stay."

The Alzheimer's Association reports the disease now costs $45 billion to treat and care for patients, with cost of care expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2050.

"Alzheimer’s is a huge health crisis, but it’s also very much becoming a financial crisis as well," said Michelle Garrard, community program specialist for the Alzheimer's Association Heart of America Chapter.

Michelle Garrard, Community Program Specialist for the Alzheimer's Association Heart of America Chapter.

Through her work with those struggling with the disease and with the association, Garrard has seen the struggles of caregivers like John.

"I think it’s been a big issue, but for sure, with the pandemic and the staffing crisis that we have encountered, prices are just going up and up and up for long-term care," Garrard said.

The emotional toll of caregiving can be just as difficult.

"One thing to take away is when it’s your spouse, you don’t get to go home," John said. "You don’t get to go someplace and rest. You’re not out of it ever."

But with Lisa by his side, John said he wants to continue to capture photos and moments.

"We have years left, and I want to make sure she’s 100% taken care of here," he said.

The photography studio is having a grand reopening on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Details are below.