Has anyone ever created a memory photo album for a loved one who has dementia?


My mother constantly asks about my daughter, her only grandchild, who is away at grad school. My mom thinks she still lives at home. I thought maybe including pictures of where my daughter is and notes of what she’s doing would help my mom. But I may be grasping at straws...

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I made a photo book for my mom after she had a stroke and was having tremendous trouble speaking. The therapists at her rehab were using books with pictures of things like trees, telephone, teacup, which she would try to say. I made her a book with photographs of family and friends with labels underneath. It made her happy to see these pictures when she was in rehab, but I think the benefit was mostly that it made feel like I was doing something useful.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

Also consider playing music from her youth when you visit her. If you have a cell phone with a YouTube app, you can search for a video that has a collection of such songs. My dear sister-in-law did that when she was visiting my dying father. Minutes before he passed away, he was singing to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
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Reply to Lilacalani

The memory facility where my Mom was had one of those picture boxes outside each room where the family set up photos in a collage type thing. I had my Mom/Dad's wedding photo along with a few others that included all of the kids/spouses and grandkids.

At one point she asked who was that man was in the photo next to her "all dressed up". In hindsight, I think she would have grasped everyone at younger ages because that was where her mind was.

Dementia, sends the mind into loops. She probably thinks of your daughter as a child. You can just say she is in school and let it go at that.  But a few photos to look at from time to time is fine.  Just don't set yourself up for disappointment -  She still may not know who is who.  
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Reply to geewiz

Very useful for prompting memories of family, friend and important life events. Had pictures enlarged to A4 and captions so that not just family and friends but also staff could use to talk with mum. Naturally sitting and going through the pictures was excellent at the time but did not improve memory. Very worthwhile.
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Reply to Rellie

I have albums and found boxes of pictures mom and dad saved. Mom is now in memory care a nd dad in assisted living. Some days I take a box of photos and we look at them one at a time. She does not remember all, but find great joy when she does. She smiles and for a while she was a ble to talk more about those good memories. She has fronto-temporal dementia, so speech is increasingly difficult. I left an album from my dad's 80th birthday party and they both love going thru that and pointing out people they remember. Dad has Alzheimer's, so he remembers less than mom right now - but when I show him pics with he and mom he is amazed at what a party we had. He is 93 now and he will talk about those great pics for a good hour. We also listen to old music together. I highly recommend a show on Netflix frtom PBS called Alive Inside. My dad was never a singer or dancer when i was growing up, but now when he and mom sing and she wants to dance in the room to the music, they look like they are young lovers again. Dad gets upset when mom can't talk to him and he does not understand why. He is very happy when she sings to him and wants to hold his hand or dance to the music with him. I thinks the music and pics improve quality of life, but realize they do not have the organizational skills to look at the pics alone or pick out music. But, it is something you or friends and family can do to create better memories for you too. We don't want to see our parents suffer or be listless. Making joyful times with pics and music makes priceless memories for me and other family members when we record or put on Facetime video with family at the same time. We can laugh together again.
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Reply to kikirun

I used to show my MIL her old photo albums but she only recognized herself at a younger age and a few others. It mostly just agitated her as she would then ask where everyone was. After a while she recognized no one. It may work for you though.
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Reply to Stilltired

clnolin, your Mom might not realize that time has marched on, like geewiz had mentioned.

Oh how I wished I would have found my parent's photo albums and boxes of loose photos back when they were still alive. I have so many photos of people I have no clue who they are. Thus, I was thinking, clnolin, if your Mom's memory is back decades ago, maybe she can help fill in the blanks of any old photos you might have. You can try with a couple of photos, and if Mom doesn't remember, then don't attempt to try it any more.

Another thing I wished I would have done now that I am building a family tree, was to ask my Mom the names of her grandparents as I just can't find anything on Ancestry or in any old notes. Grab that information now in case you, or your daughter want to do a family tree.
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Reply to freqflyer

A few years ago, my sister made a very nice large wall collage crammed full of family and friend pictures of everyone at all ages, even pictures of pets, cut in all sizes and pasted artfully, and it hangs now above her NH bed. No matter how we've all tried to get her to focus on any of the pictures, she just won't. I'm not sure when she lost interest or the ability to connect the dots, but it's gone. She cares nothing for TV and won't even look at it. She grins but doesn't "get" pictures taken and shown to her on phones. Her last real vision test was in 2014, and the eye doc (surgeon who did her cataract surgeries) just flatly dismissed us. I put earphones on her and play a CD for her a few times a week of church choir music, and she connects sometimes with that and can sing along in Latin. Sound does affect her, and she responds to that. She talks and eats fine yet but is truly into her own world, usually talking to herself even when I'm talking to her.  She was diagnosed in 2008.
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Reply to anonymous144432

Each year as a Christmas present I made a personalized wall calendar for my Mom and my aunt, who were in their 80s and 90s. My mom had dementia. My aunt's memory was sharper than mine. They both loved the calendars.

Some years would have pictures of my husband, kids, and myself, with as many of my mom and aunt also in those photos. Other years it would be pictures of my mother and aunt with their siblings, in their youth and in old age. Other years might be 13 pictures (one for each month, and one for the cover) of a loved one's wedding.

It was an inexpensive gift (under $20.00) that they each treasured, and I had fun picking out the pictures each year.

Best wishes.
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Reply to SallyKB

wow. it doesn't get any better than the experience 'kikirun' has enabled for her parents :)
our mom is in whatever stage of dementia that makes her not want to do anything like look at the pictures i have assembled for her... this extends to activities as well - she just complains and states 'there's nothing to do here' or 'i don't like any of those activities' or, re chair exercises 'that's not exercise!' ornery, blaming, accusing...recently shocked me saying 'oh, yes i'll do that [singing group] then 'i changed my mind' and a very stubborn one it is.
a bit off topic, the above, but this forum is wonderful for gaining insight and support - or - for venting a bit! lol
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Reply to skyfall

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