Memories in Pictures: Worth More Than a Thousand Words to the Elderly

June 25, 2013

As the days get longer, eventually running into each other and as the sharp edges of memories merge as well, it is an incredible challenge for those who love and care for their elderly to keep them happy and in touch with reality.

Pictures are a veritable goldmine for helping elders, achieving so much more than words can ever do.

A few years I had a poignant first hand example when my Mother was going through her gradual slide into oblivion. Family pictures, especially those of my Father always generated a wonderful response…a smile, a question, sometimes even a little story. It was so wonderful to bring her back, even for a few precious moments.

Recently I have been experiencing a similar scenario with a dear friend, a widower, who is dealing with increasing confusion. I make it a point with each of my frequent visits, to take one of his many photo albums to our "tea time"and to watch his face light up as he recounts, in detail, the stories of his life with his wife, the war and his many escapades with his airforce buddies. The veil just falls away and he is so engaged. It is so wonderful to see and to realize that pictures, clustered by time or event, can bring the mind back into focus.

So many of us have boxes of old pictures in our basements. They recount wonderful tales of days gone by-but they need some love. They need to be appreciated, sorted and put in albums or scanned to disks. In this format they become powerful tools to unlock the mind once again, to promote joy and even draw out a few precious words.

Single pictures in frames will not elicit the same response. No time for this, make it a family project. Delve into these beautiful remnants of the past, and create the map of family history that you can enjoy with your elder time and time again.

What a lovely way to facilitate a difficult visit and to make time flow again.

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