9 Photo Reminiscence Tips to Boost Alzheimer’s Affected Memory

By: | Tags: , , | Comments: 0 | December 15th, 2015

In the United States, there are more than five million Americans afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. This progressive degenerative disorder is listed  within the top 10 as the only cause of death which cannot be cured, slowed or prevented. Alzheimer’s disease is a serious form of dementia and or brain disorder which causes significant cognitive changes and affects many aspects of daily living, particularly those utilizing memory. Not all memory loss is indicative of this disease. Examples that may point to Alzheimer’s include frequently forgetting entire chunks of conversations and forgetting names of common objects and family member or substituting words with inappropriate choices. Since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms develop slowly and worsen over time.
Research has demonstrated that many individuals with this disease retain the ability to use their long term memories. This can be further strengthened using the technique of photo reminiscence – discussing past events, activities and experiences using tangible prompts such as photographs with the person who is afflicted. This technique can help promote feelings of connection and comfort while reducing withdrawal and isolation commonly associated with people who suffer from dementia.

The following tips will help you put together a meaningful photo book that will serve as a practical aide for engaging your loved one’s with Alzheimer’s and the rest of your family in a meaningful conversation:

1. Put photographs in chronological order



Photo books are an excellent tool for organizing a person’s life history. Start by putting the patient’s photographs in chronological order, beginning with the day they were born leading up to present day. Organize the photo book around key events and focus on happy moments. This will assist with engaging the patient and will serve as the corner stone for your photo reminiscence exercises. Ensure the design is simple with just one to two pictures on every page. This will make it easy for your loved one to focus and in-turn exercise the brain more effectively.

2. Choose photographs that depict relationships

This is important in sparking the person’s recognition of familiar people. Try to dedicate a single section to every person in your family. Select photos that depict your loved one with family members from various life stages. Place these in chronological order.

3. Choose meaningful moments


Select photographs that depict important moments such as a wedding, vacation, birthday or party. Photos showing the individual doing his or her favorite activities and hobbies, is a good place to start to help trigger good memories.

4. Create the photo book together

Enlist the person’s help to create the photo book. Engage him or her in conversation while arranging the photographs.

5. Engage the person in meaningful conversation


Use open-ended questions to ask your loved one about their life, such as “what was it like taking a cruise around the Caribbean?” What was it like having seven brothers and sisters? The answers you receive are less important than the engagement and conversation itself.

6. Relate by sharing your own memories

A conversation is a two-way street. Share your feelings and memories when you look at certain pictures. If the person is feeling comfortable, he or she may ask you questions as well. Be sure to answer these.

7. Focus on connection and not correction


Connection happens when you share and encourage the person in front to do the same. Do not correct him or her in their answers. Let them feel free to answer and ask.

8. With photo reminiscence revisit this activity frequently

Photo reminiscence is not a one-time activity. Take time out to revisit your photo book often, each time you sit down to share memories, select a different page or two from the photo book. You might do this weekly or daily. It depends on the individual.

9. Pay attention to the person’s cues


Gauge the individual’s interest level to determine how fast or slow to progress. Focus on photographs that seem to spark more conversation or interest.By engaging in a conversation using a photo book with an individual with Alzheimer’s disease you will help the individual strengthen their long term memory faculties.

For individuals living with advanced forms of dementia, there are many challenges which unfortunately seem to worsen as the disease progresses.  We would love to hear your tips on photo sharing and reminiscence techniques. Are you using newer digital mediums to trigger memories. We would love to hear how you use Instagram or Facebook to do this. Have you ordered a photo book from a service such as Shutterfly to help you in your goal of slowing down the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease with your loved ones?

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