A number of my fellow bloggers here on Live Sigma Kappa have shared with you that September is World Alzheimer’s Month. For those of you who are not familiar with this widespread disease, Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that gradually worsens over time causing memory loss and affecting an individual’s thinking and behavior (most common in older persons).

This is a very difficult disease to deal with, not only for the individuals directly affected by it, but also for the loved ones who must witness it occur day after day. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, there are a number of activities that you can take part in on a daily basis to make the progression of the disease easier to manage and to help those affected by it to feel more comfortable. Photography can play a huge part in these activities, so I will discuss a few ways that you can utilize photographs and photography to put a loved one with Alzheimer’s at ease.

  • Daily Routine: By keeping your loved one active on a daily basis, you are already helping them. Many individuals with this disease withdraw from the everyday tasks that they have always performed, which can actually worsen their condition more quickly. Encourage your loved ones to continue doing things as they have always done – just make sure you provide them with the supervision and support they need to stay safe. For example, help them write out a daily schedule of tasks that they need/want to complete. If there are individuals they will be interacting with throughout their day, provide photos of each person on the list with a description of who they are to remind your loved one how they know them. Furthermore, provide the same descriptions on name tags for these individuals to wear when they visit your loved one; include their name, age and relationship (see photo below).
  • Make Photo Albums: Usually creating photo albums is for your own personal enjoyment and relaxation. In the sense of an Alzheimer’s patient, photo albums can be an effective and helpful tool for giving their memory a workout. Compile a few “reference albums” for your loved one. For example, make one of people they know with descriptions of each, another of places they’ve visited or activities they have done in the past – even photos of their daily tasks with captions on how to do them.
  • Reminisce: Studies have shown that photographs can help victims of Alzheimer’s Disease to remember certain things, or at least trigger a sense of familiarity with a certain subject.  Go through old photos with them. This could help them to remember pleasant memories from their past. If they are coming to visit you at your home and they don’t recall having been there before, perhaps provide them with a photo of them from a past visit so they feel more comfortable with the space. Are family members coming to visit? Provide photographs of each family member and discuss each with your loved one so they are more likely to remember who is visiting.
  • Watch Together: When photos aren’t enough and you have access to video, perhaps bring out some home movies that feature your loved one and watch them together. You can try to answer questions they might have, but they may also be calmed and pleased by watching something that seems familiar to them.

Besides the photography-related activities that you can do with your loved one affected by Alzheimer’s, there are a number of other things you can do to help them through their struggle with the disease. Below are a few links to some great websites that give even more suggestions on how you can provide continuous help and support. And don’t forget to look for dates and locations of a Memory Walk near you so you can help “Walk To End Alzheimer’s!”

One Response to Photography Promoting Memory

  1. Teri Centner Teri Centner says:

    Such great advice! After my mother was diagnosed my dad put photos of the whole family up throughout the house. And he even did photos of her cats — just like you showed the dog photo above.

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