Wife who has dementia remembers husband on their 72nd anniversary photo shoot

It was an eventful day for Grace Manor Care Center, a senior living facility in Burlington, Colorado. Leonard and Shirley Matties were about to celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary, but this time, it will be the most memorable one yet.


When Ardis Behrendsen, a Certified Nurses Aide, discovered the 91-year-old couple’s anniversary was nearing, she planned and organized an entire celebration for the lovebirds’ special day. Shirley and Leonard have been together for seven decades, and Behrendsen wanted to go the extra mile. Reaching your 72nd year as a married couple is not something you can celebrate every day.

“I have been working in long term healthcare since I was 16. Working with the elderly has always been a huge passion to me. What I got to be a part of today was the most beautiful experience, this amazing couple has been married 72 years today,” Behrendsen wrote in a Facebook post.


The Matties family was already planning for an anniversary party, but Behrendsen thought a photo shoot would be a perfect memento for the couple’s everlasting love. She got a beautiful pink gown for Shirley, and it didn’t take long before the whole senior living facility took notice of the 91-year-old’s gorgeous dress and charming smile.

At senior living facility,

When everything was all set, a staff member of the senior living facility wheeled Shirley out into the hallway and onto where Leonard was staying. When Leonard saw her wife roll towards his direction, his face became filled with color—he was absolutely delighted to see the love of her life in a flowy pink gown.

Despite more than 13,000 views of the Behrendsen’s Facebook post, not everyone knows that the 91-year-old woman in the pink gown has dementia. In the video posted by Ardis, Shirley seemed to recognize Leonard’s face. She even reached his man’s hand as the couple held hands.

Celebrating their anniversary at a senior living facility.

The post also garnered more than 1,500 reactions, 311 comments, and 784 shares. Many of the people commented took notice of the 91-year-old couple’s enduring love and pure happiness. People who commented the viral post also congratulated Shirley and Leonard on their anniversary.

“Leonard and Shirley are such a beautiful example of what true love is and prove that when you truly love someone, you fix what is broken and love each other through all the hard times you may face,” Behrendsen wrote.

Nurse taking care of elderly people at a senior living facility.

The adorable couple was all smiles and giggles as they posed in the senior living facility with old photographs of themselves. Behrendsen said that seeing the look on Leonard’s face as they brought Shirley into the room was one of the most beautiful things she has ever seen.

People with dementia, especially the elderly, find it more difficult to store and remember new memories or information they got within a short period. But this was not the case with Shirley—she was able to recognize her husband, react accordingly, and be in the ‘present’.


You might wonder what’s the key towards a long life and love that withstands the test of time. Leonard says it’s all “work”, while Shirley said they just ‘kept going’. Whether or not you heed the Matties’ advice, it all went great for them in the end.