Forgetting names and faces is a common issue with dementia patients. My mother had severe memory loss. Names were slow to come, and some faces were not as readily remembered.
To help my mom remember faces and family members' names, I created a photo book for her as a gift. The process was not difficult or very time-consuming. I kept it simple to reduce visual confusion. The focus of the photo album was our family—the faces and names of loved ones.
Choosing an Album
It is important to keep the living space of a dementia patient free of clutter. It helps them function more effectively and provides fewer visual distractions.
With this in mind, I chose a smaller album for my project. It will fit nicely into a small space. With a larger album, it was possible to use several photos on one page, but I chose to keep it simple and place one photo on each page. This allowed me the space to write names above or below the pictures.
Gather and Organize Photos
The most difficult and time-consuming part of this project is gathering the photos. Digging through boxes of photos can be a project of its own. After finding the photos, select the order for gluing them into your album. If you prefer, spread your selected photos out on the table and choose pictures as you go.
Post a special picture on that first page. Using photos with the person and family members together can be an effective way to express the special relationship of those individuals. I selected a favorite picture of mom and me for that first picture. It was easier to choose other photos after that one special photo was in place.
How to Assemble Your Album
Using glue sticks designed for photos, I liberally covered the back of each photo with glue. Covering the entire surface with glue will assure that your photo remains attached where it is placed.
Before placing the photo in the album, I used a sturdy black pen to write the name(s) of the person(s) in the picture. Some photos allowed me to write directly on the photo. Portrait shots usually have plenty of background space for the name to be written. If you want to be creative, use another color of ink.
To embellish the album, I placed simple stickers on many of the pages. They were reflections of the season with winter birds, birdhouses, and snow-covered mailboxes. I kept it very simple and did not let my pages get too 'busy". The stickers were used where there was empty space, and they added a bit of color and interest to an otherwise blank area.
Finishing the Album
After all of the pictures had been glued, labeled, and placed in the album, I finished it by placing similar stickers inside the front and back covers. This helped complete my sticker theme in the album. To finish, I wrote a short note with the date of the album for future reference.
This album can be passed down through the generations. All of the pictures are labeled. As our families grow older and children marry and have children of their own, it often becomes difficult to distinguish young children's faces from one another. This album will provide memories and family information for many years to come.
I expect this gift to bring a smile. Mom and I will enjoy her photo book as she thumbs through each page.
This project can be completed in a day or spread over several days. It was a fun and easy project that I will most likely replicate for other aging family members in the coming years. Enjoy!
GiftedGrandma from USA on December 21, 2011:
Many face this situation without the calm you are doing. Wonderful idea!
Paula Kirchner (author) from Austin. Texas on December 20, 2011:
Sorry to hear about your Mom Pollyannalana. I agree with your calm and quiet atmosphere for those suffering with this dreadful disease. Thanks for stopping by! Thank you Rebeccamealey and Jeannieinabottle for stopping by. You have encouraged me today.
Pollyannalana from US on December 19, 2011:
This sounds like a great idea, I lost my mom to Alzheimer's over a year ago. It seems to me that calm and quiet was her best medicine to make her days and nights go smooth.
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 19, 2011:
That's awesome that you made that for your Mom. I made a family photo album/scrap book last year from digging through boxes of old photos.... it was very time consuming so I can definitely relate!
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on December 19, 2011:
This is a really thoughtful gift idea. I will keep this in mind as a future present. Thanks for sharing!