Do we leave pictures up to help remind mom of us and who she is, or should we take them down? -

Do we leave pictures up to help remind mom of us and who she is, or should we take them down?


Hi, here's the situation. My mom's vascular dementia has been progressing. Some days very alert, some days not. We have pictures of family on the walls. Some days when I visit she is very confused and keeps asking me who those babies are on the wall. My two brothers and I, our baby pictures from when we were born are on the wall. Sometimes she obsesses over trying to figure out who the people are, even she herself. The next visit she's very glad to look at them and say hey there's me and my husband. Is there a right or wrong? Should we not have too many reminders in the room so that she can go into her own world, so to speak, or do we keep her in ours with all the reminders. I just want to do what's best for her. So many things with this disease are hard to decide. Thanks for any help!

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My mom loved having all her photos at her house, so we thought it would be a great idea to bring them to our house when she moved in. Sometimes she really enjoys them when she thinks that our house is her house. But when she realizes that she's at our house, she usually thinks she's visiting, and the photos upset her. She demands to know why I've taken her pictures and she'll pack them all up in bags to "take them with her when she leaves." Sometimes I can tell her that she just had copies made for us, and that helps. She also used to sit and look at old photo albums and cry when she lived alone. She doesn't look at them so much now. I think she's too busy with all the kids (her grands) and puttering around "taking care" of us. Sometimes she packs those up to leave, too, but at least she doesn't cry anymore.
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As long as she isn't upset, whatever you're doing isn't wrong.

Walking through the memory care unit at my mother's respite care home, I met a lady who was clutching one of those multi-print frames with lots of pictures of people in it, ranging from infants to middle aged adults. She was keen to tell me who they all were, and was very certain about three or four of them, but with others she was asking me who they were. It didn't matter: I just said what a lovely family she had, and how thoughtful of them to put the group together in one frame like that for her to keep with her. Then she wandered happily off to tell a member of staff about them. I have no idea who she thought I was.

If your mother gets distressed about particular pictures, quietly remove them. Otherwise let them stay, and answer any questions simply, no matter how much your heart might sink at what she seems to have lost. E.g. do say "that's John, your husband, on your silver wedding anniversary." Do not say "don't you know?! That's your husband! You remember him, don't you?"
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Please leave the pictures up! They also help the staff to remember that the loved one HAS loved ones, and see how the person "used to be and look" . Make them seem like more of a "real person". We encourage this in the ICU where I work, and everyone loves it and it gives the staff something to talk to the person about!
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My Grandma has dementia, and the pictures help a lot. If she's lost and cant figure out where she is, they help to remind her that she's in her house. They also help when trying to remember people. She's doesn't remember her own name half the time, but seeing pictures from 20+ years ago helps calm her down. People with dementia are going in reverse, so they can't remember yesterday but they can remember something that happened many years ago. Keep the pictures up. They can help in many ways.
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Labeling them is a good idea.

I would leave them up at least for now. If your mom gets to a point where she's obsessing on the pictures you can try removing them but if she is still getting pleasure from them keep them up for now.

And you're right. It's difficult to decide what to do. What's the right decision for our loved one? It's trial and error. What works for one person may not work for someone else. But as long as you have your mom's best interests at heart you'll be OK.
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Label the pictures with names and year, in large print. I know that would help me and I am 65.
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