Are photographs a good idea?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by beverrino, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. beverrino

    beverrino Registered User

    Jan 12, 2015
    My son bought afternoon tea vouchers for myself and my mum at a rather grand country house hotel. We both thought she would enjoy this and it would be a nice change for her, however, she was in a 'bit of a mood' and complained (not very discretely) about most things - sandwiches too small, tea cups too small, not enough tea - although she actually had three teapots to herself, etc..

    I had decided to take a camera to record the occasion (knowing that she would have forgotten even before we left the car park where she had been). I got some nice photos on the digital camera and when I showed her one - she said - that's an old woman - I am not an old woman, so we said - oh no, you are not like n old woman at all and joked about it.

    Now my dilemma is, the plan was to print the photos and give her them so to remind her of her day out, but I am afraid this could only depress her if she sees an 'old woman' on the photos - she knows it is her though.

    Anyone have any suggestions as what would be the best way to approach this?
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello beverrino

    I would leave the photos, and just let your mum experience the day. I think this applies whether she enjoyed it or not because her memory will be so unpredictable.

    It`s very disappointing to plan treats and not have them appreciated or enjoyed but you can only try.
  3. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    Actually I can understand exactly where your Mum is coming from. When I look at recent photos, I am always shocked to see an old lady looking back at me. I am in my seventies, I can accept that I am getting older but I don't ever see myself as a little old lady

    And that's what I look like in photos so I absolutely hate it.
  4. elizabeth20

    elizabeth20 Registered User

    Dec 28, 2013
    My mum never enjoyed looking at photos of herself even before she became ill. She's having a spell in hospital at the moment and when I visited on Saturday she was distressed and out of all the gibberish I could make out that she wanted to be at home with her mum and dad (mums in her 90's).

    Yesterday I thought it a good idea to take in a photograph of mum with her little dog of 15 years to remind her of the home she left a week ago and the one hopefully she will return to. She took one look then twisted her face in disgust and pushed it away. I showed it again and talked about the dog - not interested. I have left it on the side table as a conversation starter for nurses and other visitors ( oh forgot I am the only visitor!!!!!!! That's another thread I think).

    Could you not just show your mum pictures of the place itself that don't have her image on? My mum thinks that she is 21 until she looks at her 'old lady arms' as she calls them. So I think it must b upsetting to c an old lady in a photograph when in her head she is a young person once more.

    Just keep trying is what most of us do someone ages ago once said to me on TP that their mother didn't recognise herself in the mirror and got frightened thinking there was some stranger in the room.

    Good luck try her again with photos on a different day and her response may be totally different.
  5. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Im sorry the "treat" didnt work out as expected, but Im afraid its often the way with dementia.
    I think perhaps you need to accept that she wont remember what she has done recently as she is now living in the past and trying to remind them is not actually a kindness. Keep the photos for yourself so that you remember and enjoy further times with her.
  6. beverrino

    beverrino Registered User

    Jan 12, 2015
    Thank you so much for your replies. I think she did enjoy her day in her own way and was really thankful to my son afterwards (though at that point I think it was more for actually visiting her). She hates spending money (although she has plenty of it) - and the prices were on the menu that shocked her - so although I explained we were not paying - I think that's set her off to start with.

    She is so very unpredictable. I will see how she is when I see her. It was a very tiring day for her - also she kept thinking she was going to see a doctor so a bit confusing.

    I think next time we will just opt for a café, but at least I have the photos.
  7. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    Your Mum sounds very much like my friend. I have experienced exactly as you describe. I do take photos when I can and I know if, despite her protestations etc., if she has enjoyed herself and so present the photos at another time when she is 'better' and she often says , yes, I remember and it sparks something for her.

    I too have my own symptoms and realise that others don't know if I enjoy something, I always enjoy being with my family and looking at photos afterwards it reminds me who I am and who I am connected to much of which has been badly damaged since I became ill. Much of my time is spent being isolated by this disease and I welcome anything that makes that less so and I know this is the same for my friend too.

    I think drinking 3 pots of tea shows she enjoyed something;):)
  8. mancmum

    mancmum Registered User

    Feb 6, 2012
    We do use photographs

    I guess it does depend a lot on the person, but we do use photographs quite a bit...and have found. It helps if there are things that are identifiable. So Father knows what the Cutty Sark is and he can see that it is him with it, therefore, he has been to London.

    Pictures of a holiday were printed with comments next to them, so he knows he has had a holiday in in old home town. He recognises the places and then makes deductions.

    A picture of the new carer with her name on it on the noticeboard helped him learn her name.

    With repetition over time these appear to allow a memory to be laid down.

    I am sure it depends a lot on the person and where they are up to.

    Photos can give other people something to talk about even if its as banal as liking the teapot. It can be hard to find things to talk about.
  9. Vesnina2

    Vesnina2 Registered User

    Oct 8, 2014
    Excuse me for interruption, but...

    I used a lot photos from various times...
    To remind us and our guests on the various phases mother experienced...
    To remind us and our guests on all my mother has been in her life,
    although something may be invisible at the moment...

    Because she is all of it, not only the picture of her face today...

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