How to Successfully View Old Photos With Someone Who Has Dementia

Looking at photo albums is a wonderful way to pass time with someone with moderate-stage dementia. But it can be tricky, too. You want the person to have positive feelings about the activity, not feel frustrated because he or she has no idea who's in the pictures or why they're important.

Best way to do it:

  • Use photo albums that include labels of who's who.

  • Flip a few pages and see how it goes. In general, it works well to skip farther back in time, to the time in life when the person with dementia was an active parent, a newlywed, or even a child.

  • Don't quiz: "Do you know who this is?" Instead, comment and supply the info yourself: "Look, there's Aunt Lucy." "I think that's Grandpa when he was a boy."

  • Stop if your loved one seems stressed or unhappy. But often, old pictures can start a flow of reminiscing, especially when they're from much earlier days.

  • Consider culling the images that generate the most conversation or that your loved one seems to spend the most time with. Place these into a smaller album that can be turned to often.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio