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Photography, Reminiscence Therapy and Apathy

While digging up an old family album, I chanced upon a picture of myself as a toddler in the arms of my parents. I jokingly asked them to take a similar picture now that I am older but they simply told me that it was impossible. Apart from the possibility of crushing my mother because I am obviously far from my weight as a young child, my parents agreed that yes, we may be able to recreate our clothing or our particular poses on that image but the events and memories that go with it will never be recaptured. But then again with photographs, it may always be remembered.

This made me wonder. When I grow older, will I be able to look at pictures of myself as a young woman and share my memories of when it was taken? What about my parents?

To tell you honestly, losing my memories is a scary thought and the possibility of my parents losing their memories of me even more so. Yet there are millions of family members and friends who experience this heartache every single day.

Photography, Reminiscence Therapy and Apathy

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease is not your normal age-related forgetfulness. It's normal if you occasionally forget where you last placed your glasses or if you sometimes mistook your grandson for your son. When you walk into the room determined to say something but then after getting distracted, found yourself unable to remember what you were supposed to say in the first place. Those are normal.

What's not normal is when you completely forgot who are the people around you, who you are, become unable to perform normal daily activities or when you get lost even in places that you should know like it's the back of your hand. If you experience these symptoms, please visit your physician immediately.

When worse comes to worst, and my parents start losing their memories, will my cornucopia of family photos help trigger their memories?

  • Reminiscence Therapy
  • Our memories are usually triggered by our senses. When we hear a particular song, we often associate it with a moment in our life. For example, when I hear the music of The Beatles, I can remember the sensation of waking up on a summer day with the smell of coffee that my father always brews in his own stubbornly particular way.

    When I smell a certain scent, I can't help but think about someone who either wore that same scent or a memory of a place that smelled almost the same way. Same goes with the taste buds, when I take a bite of something and it immediately takes us back to my childhood.

    An example of Reminiscence Therapy utilizes photographs to as visual memory trigger in order to establish rapport with aged care residents or sometimes, with the family, friends and carers.

    Reminiscence therapy has several types. Simple Reminiscence aims to simply take a trip down memory lane and reflect on the past in a straightforward, informative and enjoyable means. Evaluative Reminiscence is more on a therapy setting and could be used to reflect on one's life, decisions or conflict resolution.

  • Photography against Apathy
  • Apathy is a known symptom of dementia. Alzheimer Society Australia described it as an ÔÇťabsence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical or physical life. A normal person saying that they don't care is not apathy. They may be indifferent, but in the context of dementia and other cognitive disorders, it's not the same. A known cause of apathy is damage to the frontal lobe. This is the area of the brain that is responsible for planning, judgement, and insight. Another reason could be the lack of understanding to what is currently happening around them.

    Photographs help solve the communication challenges that carers and caregivers face with people with dementia. With photographs, persons with dementia are able to either recall memories or to help them trigger their imagination.

  • Moving Forward
  • With Instagram, Snapchat and other image focused Social Media sites, capturing and sharing moments have never been easier. It's a matter of integrating our elderly loved ones into the mix by giving them the right tools and technology suitable to their needs.

    Personally, as a daughter, this gives me peace of mind.

AgedCareFriendly is your one-stop-shop for Aged Care Related News and information. Check out our website at www.agedcarefriendly.com

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