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Can Old Photos Help Relatives With Dementia?

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By Elaine Elliott

Old photographs have always sparked fond memories among friends and family. Is it possible that there are more benefits than just reminiscing? Exercising the brain to jog old memories can help prevent dementia in loved ones.

Next time you visit grandma’s house, consider taking the time to look through old photographs. The bonding experience could help in more ways than one!
Dementia produces abnormal brain changes such as memory loss and decline in critical thinking. Over half of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. Once dementia starts to occur, there is no foolproof cure. But medications, a healthy diet, and cognitive exercises may help mitigate the intensity.

 

Is it possible old photos can also be added to the list of ways to lessen dementia? There are many ways the activity can lower the risk of memory loss. Neurologists and psychologists have studied “Photographic Treatment” for years, and have come up with the following tips for memory treatment.

 

First off, place photographs in chronological order. If you don’t already have a scrapbook, here is the perfect opportunity to make one with the family! If you need to digitize extra copies, KODAK can help.

 

Having your loved one shuffle through these photos will help them rethink of old memories and spark recognition among certain events and family members throughout their life. The therapeutic tool can trigger deep memories the individual probably thought were long gone.

 

Not all photographs will have the same effect. You might go through several without a single response from your loved one. But for all you know, the least expectant photographs could prompt conversation. For this reason, you shouldn’t throw away any old photographs until they look at every single one of them. For all you know, the random picture of a flower vase might have more significance than a family portrait.

 

It’s important to engage in conversation throughout the scrapbooking process. By asking open-ended questions, more recollections can resurface. In return, share your thoughts or feelings when you look at each photograph. This will add more depth to the discussion and stimulate increased interaction and perspective to each picture.

 

Avoid asking specific questions, whether regarding a childhood memory or something that happened last week. If they are unable to answer, this can cause more frustration and setbacks.

 

Looking back as visual memories frequently, whether weekly or monthly, will add more value to the activity. Remember, consistency is key!

 

During each interaction, try to mix up the photos with new (or older) ones. Running out of photos? Keep taking new ones of recent events to add to the scrapbook. Even current happenings can add value to the activity.

 

Another method is taking photographs of funny or happy images such as a kitten or child’s face. Dementia causes depression in patients, and oftentimes a humorous photo can spark happiness during difficult times. Don’t get too stressed if you feel like there aren’t enough family photos for the endeavor. You can use any photograph you want. For example, if your loved one was fond of baseball, find some stock images of their favorite baseball players or stadiums.

 

Before you know it, your loved one will have a comprehensive photo album of their life. This keepsake will be cherished by them, especially in times of loneliness. You’ll be glad you made it because your family can pass down the treasure for generations to come.

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