The Benefits of Family Pictures for People with Dementia

If you have a loved one or family member with dementia, we know that you’ll want to find new ways to support and help them through this difficult time. While dementia can be a challenging condition to manage, there are some relatively simple ways you can help.

One suggestion that many care homes and healthcare professionals make is to ensure that your loved one is surrounded by items such as family photographs and pictures that capture fond memories. There are many benefits for your loved one in displaying family photos, which can bring them some joy and comfort.

Putting up photos

Even if your loved one is in a rented residence or a care home where you aren’t allowed to put up a lot of pictures, there are still good options for displaying cherished photos. For example, you could look at picture rail hooks that can display pictures from molding, or picture rail systems that can let you hang multiple pictures with a minimal number of screws.

Once you find the right system for hanging pictures, hopefully, your loved one will start to reap the benefits of having the companionable familiarity of family pictures on display.

Reducing isolation

Photographs are a great way to reduce isolation, especially if they are photographs of your loved one and various members of the family. Loneliness is a major problem for people with dementia, but seeing family members in pictures can help remind your loved one that they are not alone. Of course, try to make sure that the pictures you display are positive pictures connected to pleasurable memories.

Giving you a chance to connect with your loved one

It can be a challenge to connect with your loved one if they have dementia, and it can be distressing to feel like you are losing them. Having family photos can help provide something for you and your loved one to talk about.

Of course, they might not remember the events in the photographs, so you can encourage them to talk about what they do remember. It’s also good to talk about your memories from the photographs and help them answer the questions that you’re asking them as well, as may help them feel more relaxed and help you connect better. People with dementia might more clearly remember events that are long in the past, so try to bring them photos from several different time periods.

Acting as a memory aid

Photographs and pictures can of course be a good memory aid for people who might have trouble remembering events or loved ones. It’s important not to use the photos to correct them of details on past history, but rather the photos can be a reassuring and friendly reminder of the people in your loved one’s life.

You can also add any photos of significant memories that seem important to them, as this could help them recall happy events. Images can help invoke good memories much more easily than words can, so adding new pictures may help them to remember more holidays, gatherings, or achievements.

Helping preserve a sense of self

When people suffer from dementia, they can start to lose their sense of self. Photographs of your loved one with family can help them retain this, reminding them of who they are and the people who love them. Again, pictures can be so much more evocative than words, so photographs really are useful.

Encourages photo-taking

Having photographs up on the wall can also encourage your loved one to take more photographs and add to the display. If your loved one isn’t able to take photographs themselves, you could help them, or ask their caretaker to help. Taking photographs can help support someone’s short-term memory, as well as give them a hobby to focus on. You can even start taking photographs together to give you a new activity to enjoy together.

Helps stimulate positive memories

We all want to be reminded of the good times, but for someone with dementia, they might struggle to remember these, or they might focus on negative experiences. Even if your loved one doesn’t fully remember an event, photographs of being joyful and excited could help them feel happier.

What else could I display to help someone with dementia?

As well as photographs, there are plenty of other items you could display. Anything that helps stimulate conversation and positive memories can help, such as souvenirs from trips, tickets or programs, art pieces they have created, or that family members have created for them as gifts. They may also have awards or academic certificates.

Family pictures for dementia patients: Summary

Dementia can be a very difficult condition to deal with, for both the patient and their family. Having family photos on display can help remind your loved one of treasured memories, and could encourage positive brain activity. Never underestimate the power photographs have to help people connect.