When Swedish photographer Maja Daniels first gained access to a geriatric hospital in northwest France in 2007, she didn't have an agenda or project in mind. But on her first visit she noticed two faces peeking through the portholes of a locked door. "[They were] trying to get my attention," Daniels said. "I had to come back."

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

Behind the locked door was the hospital's "protected unit" — a confined ward for residents with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Daniels would end up spending three years in and out of that cordoned space, photographing the daily lives of its residents.

"I grew very attached to the residents in the unit," Daniels said. "I wanted to portray each resident and the situation they found themselves in in a dignified way, but I felt uncomfortable at times and I did sometimes question my presence."

"I spent a lot of time not taking pictures, just spending time in the ward just like any volunteer."

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

Daniels, who lives in London, has a master's degree in sociology, and her academic pursuits helped frame her time at the ward and the resulting project, Into Oblivion.

Globally, an estimated 46.8 million people are living with dementia, according to the 2015 World Alzheimer Report. That number is expected to double every 20 years, and demand for care has only grown with this increasing population of dementia-afflicted seniors.

But Daniels saw the "protected unit" as a metaphor for society's increasing disregard for its elders. "As growing old and being dependent is more taboo than ever," Daniels writes in her project introduction, "the geriatric institution hides our elders away, safely out of sight."

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

The locked door that first drew her attention turned out to be a symbolic visual.

It's common for Alzheimer's patients to have a strong urge to go home. "This is where the constant wandering and the struggle with the door would begin," Daniels said.

Without sufficient resources for activities and staff, aimless residents would often congregate around this physical barrier to the outside world. The obstacle became a target for the emotional confusion and, sometimes, physical aggression that comes with having the disease.

"The daily struggle with the door, damaged due to repeated attempts to pick the lock, can last for hours," Daniels said.

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

When Daniels completed her project in 2010 she conducted an open discussion around her work with the hospital's staff as well as family members. "The photographs allowed me to show them life within the institution from a different perspective and this led to an interesting feedback from the [caretakers] on their own practice," she said.

Most staff were shocked the door was such an emotional draw for their charges. "They had never contemplated its symbolic value and had just seen it as a necessity," she said. "The images led to an important discussion around notions such as care and selfhood."

Utilizing both the natural and fluorescent lighting of the ward, Daniels' strikingly simple photographs are awash in pastel hues — baby pinks and blues. The accidental color scheme highlights both the degenerative nature of the disease, the reversion back to a childlike id, and the false sense of security institutionalized care can offer, putting our elderly out of sight and out of mind.

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

Into Oblivion | (Maja Daniels)

**To see more of Maja Daniels' photography, check out her website or follow her on Instagram.**