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."

    SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You

  • 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.


about 2 years ago, said...

Before my 89yo Mother moved in with us, I scanned boxes of photos from her home onto a digital thumb drive. For Christmas years ago, I purchased a small digital photo frame and loaded them in. She has mild/moderate Alz. She watched it for hours and recalled everyone, places, etc correctly. She also uses the today's date function, which helps me since she always asks "what day is it today". I refer her to her calendar and it serves another purpose. I recently upgraded to a much larger digital calendar for her, which was an excellent decision. BUT, now, instead of using the new one, we have BOTH sitting on your table andshe uses them both. THIS WAS ONE OF THE BEST GIFTS WE HAVE EVER GIVEN HER! Yes, I am shouting, because you should do it too! Start with the larger size, you won't regret it.


about 2 years ago, said...

I found the perfect tool for saving and viewing photographs, and using them as a tool for reminiscing (reminiscence therapy). The Talking Photo Album Deluxe has 200 minutes of recording time to share among 20 pages. That's an average of 10 minutes per page! Most recordable albums allow about 13 seconds of recording time per page. And if you want so spend 30 minutes (or more) talking about one particularly memorable and significant photograph, you can do that. Here's what Dave said about his Talking Album: "Fantastic! We put pictures of the family, and had the person (in the photo) record a story or favorite memory of mom. Dad did a couple pages, the four siblings, and the 7 grandchildren. Then we recorded mom telling us a story about some of the old pictures (her parents and grandparents) that she could remember. What a treasured photo album this is, and will be down the road. Took a labeller and put names of people on the sleeves protecting pictures so she could read names of people when she looks at them. Worth twice the price....it really is priceless! You can find this treasure at http://store.best-alzheimers-products.com/index.php/talking-photo-album-deluxe.html.


over 2 years ago, said...

Just a good reminder! Thanks!


over 2 years ago, said...

all of the ideas were helpful sine I have been doing it all wrong


about 3 years ago, said...

The article was very helpful, as my Mother has been, recently, wanting to look at photo albums. She does enjoy it and she seems very calm, relaxed and happy. Thank you.


about 3 years ago, said...

I like creating an album of photos that seemed most meaningful. I appreciate the reminder not to "quiz"...but...I have been playing "ten questions" related to immediate family and get good answers. I am sure the answers are quick because we play the game once a day.


over 3 years ago, said...

I like the different ways to change your wording that doesn't cause bad reactions


over 3 years ago, said...

Specifics about what to say and what types of photos to show.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Good ideas.


almost 4 years ago, said...

my mom has vascular dementia, so she knows me but can't hold a thought for more than a minute. A month ago she fell and broke her hip. Rehab very difficult because she can't remember instructions or even that she had surgery so is constantly trying to remove brace and walk. Her confusion has also gotten much worse since she has been to hospital and rehab. I am very concerned she will not be able to return home to live with me as I will not be able to care for her even with help. Breaks my heart.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Ideas to keep him in the "loop" of our family


over 4 years ago, said...

I like the idea of a smaller album with the most enjoyable photos in it. Thanks for that one.


over 4 years ago, said...

All suggestions for the best way sound very good. My husband's brother is due to visit soon and I'll have an album they can both relate to. This brother-in-law is being very helpful to me and his brother.


over 4 years ago, said...

I THINK THIS WILL GOOD FOR MY MOTHER TO LOOK LOOK AT OLD PHOTOS WE HAVE TONS OF OLD PICTURES


over 4 years ago, said...

I have looked at old pictures with my mom, and she seemed to really enjoy it. It is correct that they remember the older pictures more than the newer ones


over 4 years ago, said...

Yes, I am looking for any idea to help mom to stimulate her in anyway during our visits she is locked in a nursing home I have a court order for visits but she is left alone all day with no stimulation and the staff is very combative with me. Any suggestions will be helpfull. Some of the staff are rude any suggestions.


over 4 years ago, said...

Don't quiz, that was very interesting, because I would say"who is this?, Now I know not to quiz.


over 4 years ago, said...

I scanned a lot of old photos, used a photo editing program to add text on them saying who was in the photo, and put them on a flash drive which I inserted in a Digital Photo Frame. My 93 year old mother-in-law, who has dementia, enjoys watching them "for the first time" each time and the text reminds her who each person is.


over 4 years ago, said...

My mother's dementia is pretty far advanced. She has virtually no short-term memory. However, her recall of faces and names in very old photos is remarkable. The other day we were looking at a classic picture of her parents. I asked if she had any idea where it was taken and she came up with the exact street address from the 1930s. Such "long ago" activities perk her up and give her confidence, and she becomes more animated in the present moment.


over 4 years ago, said...

My tendency is to ask too many questions instead of soliciting spontaneous remarks from my handicapped care.


almost 5 years ago, said...

Funny I was just thinking of the same idea but putting them onto a dvd and add some sound of the music that was popular then or even some nature sounds if they are outside photos. windows media maker is so easy to use. Good idea thanks Chaplain Dee


almost 5 years ago, said...

Short, concise, helpful suggestions.


about 5 years ago, said...

This is a great way to spend time. We repeat every few weeks with the same box of photos--the older the better. My dad (almost 91) remembers the names of every one of his boyhood friends/ relatives. Here's a funny story--there was a photo of him and 2 other eight-year-old boys--"Oh that's Marty Cohen and Herbie Zuckerberg--Herbie's son grew up to be a very successful dentist!" Turns out Herbie's grandson grew up to be Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. But my dad was more impressed with the job of a dentist. LOL


about 5 years ago, said...

Nice to see old photos helps to jog the memory and fills one with nice thoughts


over 5 years ago, said...

Mum has photo collages up on the walls and she takes people around to show them her wonderful family. She does this to any one new who comes inside such as home help or a tradesman. Sometimes she takes family around and may ask who someone is and says, oh yes, that's right, I haven't seen them for awhile. She covers for herself at this stage.


over 5 years ago, said...

KNOWING HOW TO DO THIS WITHOUT GETTING THE PERSON CONFESSED IS GOOD.