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Photographs past and present
Space within
Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2019 9:49 PM
Joined: 10/7/2018
Posts: 53

  My MOM is in the advanced stages of PPA. She has been in a care facility for about two months.

  During one of my visits I brought an old photo book for my mom and I o look through. The book was mostly pictures of my mom when she was a baby till about early teenage years.  She definitely knew, that she knew her mom( who had passed away when she was a freshman at college) and also her dad.  It seemed she was a bit uncertain about recognizing her two younger siblings in a few of the pictures .

She seems to recognize the people in the old pictures but not so much in the new pictures(1970s and on).  

I feel after looking through the pictures it triggered my mom's memory(ies) and she became slightly agitated, more confused and sad. This is very sad to me, even as I write this but it could have just beeen a coincidence .  I understand we all can become a bit sad when looking at old pictures and reminiscing...just not sure if it may be harder on an individual with memory loss.

I am wondering if anyone looks through pictures with their LOs? If so, how does your LO respond?     

I have wanted to possibly put up pictures in my mom's room but also, am uncertain if it will confuse her or add to any of her sadness that she may be going through. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. 

Mom's Baby
Posted: Monday, August 26, 2019 10:05 AM
Joined: 12/19/2011
Posts: 1149

I think that it's possible that your mom got agitated because she understood she SHOULD know who was in these photos, but didn't, at least in some instances. I tried looking through old photos with my mom, but she would get extremely emotional and tearful (just one of the ways she changed with Alzheimer's) at the old photos. With the new ones, she would just look at me like I was crazy... kind of like, "Why are you showing me photos of strangers?" 

I also had to be careful with her in the mid-stages -- she would hide or throw away photos that I had placed in her room at the assisted living. One was a priceless photo of her and my dad when they were dating. I got to her room one night and the frame was sitting there with no photo in it. Of course, she had no idea who had removed it. I did find it later, stashed in a drawer with some others, thank goodness. I think some of the photos she removed just had no meaning to her -- great grandchildren she did not remember or recognize; the older photos were too painful for her to look at. 

Eric L
Posted: Monday, August 26, 2019 10:24 AM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1227

Victoria and Mom's Baby have given you some wonderful advice. I think the only thing that I would amend in regards to Victoria's advice is rather than "see what makes her happy", I would advise to "avoid upsetting her". It's relatively the same thing, but joy and happiness seem to be fleeting in regards to dementia. It seems like the negative emotions like anger, fear, and just generally being upset are the ones that stick around.
Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 9:24 PM
Joined: 3/1/2013
Posts: 30

I've made memory walls at both of our homes.   All the photos are labeled with their names.  She'll walk up to them and look closely several times a day and point to one and try to verbalize who they are. 
In order to not confuse or upset her, I didn't include photos of her mother or anyone else in the family who had died.
It's mostly photos of us, our immediate family including grandchildren, and very close friends.
Pictured here is the "girl cave" in Florida I made for her.   Lots of memorabilia of her flying days and activities in a comfortable setting. 

File Attachment(s):
anns girl cave.jpg (71672 bytes)

Space within
Posted: Monday, September 9, 2019 10:49 PM
Joined: 10/7/2018
Posts: 53

Thank you all very much for sharing your thoughts, ideas and experiences.   My mind has been opened... with the thoughts of " finding what makes her happy" and also " what will not further agitate her."  Because yes- the moods/emotions of being upset,angry, confused and irritated are more frequent than comfortable and content lately.  

I too show her more recent photos of herself, grandchildren and her children- her response is mostly being uninterested and looking at me like I'm crazy .  

   The past two weeks she seems to be crying much , much more.  I feel my siblings are now, all of a sudden in touch with my mom more and this is triggering my mom's memory causing her to be upset after a visit or FaceTime.

  I know my siblings and family members are doing the best they can with dealing with my mom's illness.  I feel awful thinking that my mom's moods were much more stable when my siblings were out of touch with my mom .  It's like now that she's nearly forgotten  everything, they are finding time to reach out to her.   

My dad and I have spent the most time with her since her diagnosis seven years ago.  I would email my siblings and suggest they FaceTime or visit... sharing with them that mom seemed much more happy afterwards when they did. ( their contact was so sparse, it'd break my heart... or they'd call and not FaceTime after my dad and I had stated it's too difficult for her to understand who's voice it is on the other side of the phone. 

  I apologize if this is coming across a bit harsh, maybe I'm just grieving as I watch my mom drift further and further away. Upset and crying saying "you don't care." "They don't like me." And my dad telling me she was crying and upset saying "my five children." 

I guess ultimately it comes down to faith and love. I know deep down, my mom loves all her kids, and would want whatever they feel is best for their health and happiness.  And I do know my siblings all love both of my parents very much and are doing what's best for them. 

I just get caught up in the uncomfortableness and deep sadness of the unknown  of this disease.

Thank you again for sharing and also for listening. Peace and love to you. Love is our greatest super power  

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 7:19 AM
Joined: 4/3/2019
Posts: 257

SpaceWithin- "Love is our greatest superpower"-- SO TRUE!!  Much love to you!

You are doing the greatest most loving act, to care for your loved one.  Of course you are grieving, that is only normal. 

Also- about photos- I went through old photos with my mom and dad last time they visited.  (Mom hasnt been formally diagnosed, but likely in the early stage?)- she got totally confused when we looked at a newspaper clipping (the local paper did a story on immigrant families in town and they interviewed us)- so it was a picture of me (age 12), my brother (age 6), and her, with a caption underneath with our names.  My mom looked at the picture, pointed at me, and asked, "Who is that?".  I was so stunned that she didn't recognize me.  Maybe she knew a lot of pre teens with bad perms and braces? So going through pictures can be both sad and uplifting and also opens up dialogue. 


Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 11:47 AM
Joined: 6/11/2019
Posts: 318

Space within -- It's a hard path to tread, especially alone.

My mom seems to like being surrounded by family pictures, mostly old, some of people we've (mostly me) never met. But that's the way it's always been. I used to call our house "the museum" in part for that reason! Now that we have an historic home, it seems more than appropriate.

My mom might initially get sad seeing these pictures but I try to conjure funny family stories so it usually ends up with laughter. So far at least she has remembered these stories. I'm waiting for the day when she doesn't.

Hugs to you. Your siblings would understand if they could. (IF they did, they'd have plugged in a long time ago and stayed plugged in.) So don't feel bad on their account.


Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 9:57 AM
Joined: 6/5/2014
Posts: 1340

hello there Space within....

My wife is also in the late stage of PPA (mid 7) and is completely non verbal. Can your mom still speak any words? I am unsure of her memory anymore although it was always good and she still shows signs daily that even her short term memory is not gone (i.e.:when dressing her she knows what happens next and tries to help).

I know this doesn't happen in all PPA cases, but one of her first symptoms was not recognizing good friends she hadn't seen recently. It was as if she'd forgotten them, but I've read that with FTD, it can be a disassociation between their memory of the person (which is still there) and their face (similar to face blindness). At this point, I really can't tell if she "recognizes" anyone, including me. If she hasn't seen me in a week,, she looks at me blankly. And so, since she never gets any visitors, she doesn't seem to recognize anyone (even herself*) in family photos. (*However, she does enjoy pausing to enjoy that person in the mirror at every opportunity!)

I also was thinking (because of your remarks about the older photos) that all types of dementia patients tend to revert back to an earlier period in their lives (childhood or young adulthood), and I've read time & again on this forum that when that happens, they sometimes no longer recognize people as they appear today (and in recent photos), but will recognize them in old photos.

I'm quite certain this has happened with my mom, and I stopped calling her "mom" a few years ago. She responds better to "Genie," which was what family & friends called her growing up. Her mother (who passed 40 years ago) is still in her current life and is sometimes coming to pick her up.

Best wishes to you... it is not easy, but we all are finding our way with each other's help.



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