How Photos Can Help Older People with Dementia

When your loved one has developed dementia, it’s understandable that you’ll want to do everything you can to support them. One of the best ways to do so is by showing them photos and images that will take them back through their memories.

By sharing snapshots from the past, you’ll be stimulating their brain. This will work to improve memory function and prolonging their cognitive ability.

When a person begins to lose their memory, they’ll start to lose their sense of self. As such, using visual aids can be vital in supporting them in retaining those sentimental moments of joy as well as helping them to engage with the present.

So, what’s the best way to use photos to help dementia?

Make a personalised photo album

One good way to engage with your loved one is by creating a photo album that’s personal to them. Depending on what stage their dementia is at, this could be a great activity to do together that will help them reflect on the past.

Start with moments from their youth, chronicling up to the present day. This will help your loved one to process how people may have visually changed. This is as well as supporting them in placing those who may have only been recently reintroduced.

Enlarge and label pictures

When putting together a photo album or flicking through some of their favourite memories, be sure to enlarge images to help them see the picture clearly. Also, to help them when they’re looking through photographs by themselves, add a caption to each snapshot. This should include who’s in the photograph, where they are and when the picture was taken.

Encourage them to keep taking photos

Once you have put together a photo album for them to treasure, there’s no reason for them to stop taking pictures to add to it. Give them a camera to keep with them and encourage them to keep taking photos. These could be of the moments they enjoy, the people they meet and the places they’ve visited.

Your loved one’s ability to use a camera will depend on their stage of dementia. However, there are plenty of options available – from small, digital cameras to polaroids. Alternatively, if they have a carer or live in a residential home, you can always ask them to help with taking the photo.

These images will provide you and your loved one with the perfect opportunity to get together and flick back through their memories as you add in their most recent updates.

Explore scrapbooking

Alongside their photographs, your loved one may also enjoy making a scrapbook. Again, this will provide your friend or family member with strong visual aids to help them in reminiscing over the past.

The process of scrapbooking is also very therapeutic and relaxing. It’s also ideal for a group setting, encouraging social interaction that will further stimulate cognitive function.

If your loved one needs additional support, The Beeches Residential Home in Ixworth can provide specialist dementia care that will support them in staying stimulated and healthy.

Based just outside of Bury St Edmunds, our care team maintain a daily roster of activities and curate a safe, supportive environment that’s ideal for older people with dementia needs.

If you’re interested in hearing more about The Beeches Residential Home, our team would be happy to talk to you. Contact us on 01359 230773 or email

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