Dementia and photos

(10 Posts)
ZombiePara Tue 12-Jan-21 13:05:15

Hello just after some advice from people who have relatives with dementia/work with people with dementia

My grandmother has been diagnosed with vascular/mixed dementia for 4 years now.
Long story short she is in a care home for respite after a long stay in hospital.

Obviously her dementia has deteriorated, she knows who we are, but is bumbling along quite happily where she is rather than kicking up a huge fuss like she would have a year ago.

I have got a digital photo frame I was going to load up with pictures, so she has some familiarity in her room, rather than a few framed ones.

But in discussing it with mum, she said the carers say she is okay in and of herself but gets upset when we call to talk to her or have a window visit.

Obviously I don't want her to be sad every day seeing photos of us and prompting her to ask when she's coming home/thinking we've abandoned her.

Anyone with any experience please let me know the good and the bad of doing this.. I'm worried she'll forget us if there aren't reminders, as she has already deteriorated so much since last year..and more so since being in hospital.

OP’s posts: |
mum11970 Tue 12-Jan-21 13:18:51

What about a ‘My Family’ photo book with a page for each person and their name on the page. That way it’s easily to hand when she wants to look through it but not right in front of her reminding her of your absence. Putting older and newer pictures of each person on their page may help with recognition too, as your grandmother will remember how people looked years ago rather than more recently. My dad has Alzheimer’s but isn’t at the stage your grandmother is but loves to look at old photos more than anything.

StillWeRise Tue 12-Jan-21 13:25:20

the book is a good idea also because others (staff) will then be able to chat about the people, 'so, there's Bob, Jane's husband he likes gardening doesn't he...' etc
I know it's not quite what you asked but I know there are photo books designed for people with dementia with pictures on common themes from the past, like the seaside, which prompt reminiscence and conversation.

pleasefeedthecat Tue 12-Jan-21 13:26:25

I used to nurse people with dementia and I found that they very much lived in the moment. Some things, such as relatives visiting, could trigger them. They appeared to be experiencing difficult emotions, but were unable to process or express them adequately, hence the agitated response.

I didn't really see them looking at photographs very much, although relatives did bring then into their rooms. They did seem to respond more to objects that they could hold, rather than purely visual things. Soft toys were popular or a favourite object from their past. Perhaps something sensory is more appealing as it doesn't require concentration whereas a photograph would.

There is some thought that it's better not to have things around which could trigger, music from their childhood is included in this, although music generally can be therapeutic.

barberousbarbara Tue 12-Jan-21 13:28:50

mum11970

What about a ‘My Family’ photo book with a page for each person and their name on the page. That way it’s easily to hand when she wants to look through it but not right in front of her reminding her of your absence. Putting older and newer pictures of each person on their page may help with recognition too, as your grandmother will remember how people looked years ago rather than more recently. My dad has Alzheimer’s but isn’t at the stage your grandmother is but loves to look at old photos more than anything.

This is a good idea. My Mom has dementia and is still living at home. If we go through photos she often doesn't recognise people (including herself as she's lost a lot of weight over the last few years) so I have reminding her of who is who. She's better with recognising people in older photos (e.g. pre-1970) than newer ones.

CMOTDibbler Tue 12-Jan-21 13:33:42

My mum got really distressed if someone tried to look at photos with her, though she was OK with the few familiar ones that were up. I think it was as she knew somehow that she should know something about them, but couldn't.
She adored her cat toy though, and that gave her hours and hours of pleasure as it demanded nothing of her

ZombiePara Tue 12-Jan-21 13:41:15

Okay really good feedback here thank you!

I did do a photobook for her for Christmas 2019 i think and although she enjoyed looking through it when she unwrapped it, it has sat on the shelf unopened since.

I hadn't considered doing one with names etc on that the carers could sit with her and look at..

She loves to sit and do jigsaws, although we need to lower the level of the ones she has at the moment (they were appropriate before with minimal help but 3 will on a hospital ward has taken its toll)

She has a soft dog toy that she loves; it hasn't had much use since she bought it (pre diagnosis) although she loves cuddling it more and says how good it is and didn't make s nuisance of itself

Just fell at a loss as the deterioration has been relatively sudden (expected but still), and although she isn't as bad as i thought she may be... we've been very lucky so far in that she has had a steady and gradual decline.

Open to any and all suggestions, and will be sharing these with my mum when i can to see her thoughts on them as well

OP’s posts: |

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JennyWreny Tue 12-Jan-21 13:59:01

I've been doing a scrapbook for my dad, with photos and also information about the photos. I suspect it's frustrating to see a photo of someone you recognise and not know who it is. So we have "This is my daughter XXX, she lives in XXX" "This is my house, I live here with my wife, XXX" "This is my granddaughter XXX, she goes to university in XXX"

I tried to make the labels easy to read with quite big type and a simple font. I also didn't worry too much about making it too neat and tidy - no measuring, just quick cutting out. I put in photos of items that are important to him, "I won this trophy in a golf tournament" etc. "I enjoy feeding the birds" with some photos that he had taken of the birds in the garden.

We have left lots of space for more photos, for each person/topic I have generally given two full pages to.

Tier10 Tue 12-Jan-21 14:25:54

My DM is only 70 and has advanced Alzheimer’s. She absolutely loved looking at old photos. She has them all in a big messy pile and one of her favourite things is for someone to sit and listen to her talking about the photos. I’ve had loads printed of our family when we were younger and because she can remember the past very well she enjoys the photos so much.

ZombiePara Tue 12-Jan-21 19:51:24

Thank you for replies, I spoke to DP about it when he came home from work... I can't really say that he added much to the discussion... his two points were:
- you dont want her spending all day crying or realising she isnt home if talking to you/reminders make her upset
And
- you dont want her coming home having forgotten you, or forgotten the house/people because the respite care will accelerate the dementia with no aids

So in other words.... he reframed my concerns in different words with no opinion either way or thoughts!

OP’s posts: |

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