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Scrapbook photo albums are therapeutic for Alzheimer's patients

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©2007 Creative Memories. This guide may be freely distributed but may not be modified in any way Album.PDF 1
Scrapbook photo albums are
therapeutic for Alzheimer's patients
Mark B. Mizen, Ph.D.
Director of Technology
Creative Memories
Saint Cloud, MN
Creative Memories is committed to helping end Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to the annual Time for
Triumph campaign, we’re taking another step as a national sponsor of Alzheimer’s Association Memory
With more than 600 communities taking part in Memory Walks throughout the United States, the
Creative Memories name and Mission will be in front of hundreds of thousands who may be caregivers,
doctors or family members of those who have this memory-robbing disease.
No cure exists for Alzheimer’s disease. Consequently, caregivers have relied on various therapies
to help patients.1 Creative Memories believes in and teaches the importance of preserving the past,
enriching the present and inspiring hope for the future. We want to help the
family members and loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients make meaningful
albums to connect with one another.
Available studies on the use of scrapbook photo albums when working with
Alzheimer’s patients are typically either anecdotal or involve only a small
number of patients and are not well controlled. Several pub-
lished reports document patients’ response to albums.
This review summarizes available information and sug-
gests ways in which scrapbook photo albums might assist
patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This review also gives
Creative Memories Consultants and others information to assist
Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
In general, published studies show that scrapbook photo albums
enhance the well-being of both Alzheimer’s patients and others affect-
ed by the disease. Medical recommendations, including suggestions from the Mayo Clinic, generally fol-
low these guidelines.2
Photographs comfort patients
Photographs from the past allow patients to reminisce about pleasant times in their lives. Photographs
from the present help patients relate to their current situation. The patient experiencing memory loss is
able to “remember or recognize someone they love and know in a world where so many things are now
unfamiliar to them.”3 A study by Ellen Mahoney of Boston College found that, in one instance, photos
distracted the Alzheimer’s patient from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.4
enriching the present and inspiring hope for the future. We want to help the
family members and loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients make meaningful
albums to connect with one another.
Available studies on the use of scrapbook photo albums when working with
Alzheimer’s patients are typically either anecdotal or involve only a small
number of patients and are not well controlled. Several pub-
Creative Memories has donated nearly
$3 million to the Alzheimer’s Association
since the partnership began in 2002 Album.PDF 2
Photographs provide additional information that allows Alzheimer’s patients to become comfortable
with their environment. In one study, an Alzheimer’s patient in the United Kingdom used photographs
to remember the names of members of his social club.5 The scrapbook is in essence, “A portable
memory reacquainting the resident with themselves and familiarizing the staff with the resident.”6
Scrapbook photo albums are therapeutic
Scrapbook photo albums assist trained professionals in treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease. A
yearbook format scrapbook can serve as a therapeutic restorative biography. A biography of this type
can make, “a profound difference in how late stage [Alzheimer’s disease] patients are perceived and
understood.”7 Families relate to the patient through photographs and memories. Caregivers develop
empathy and are able to see the patient as a human being.
Albums provide trained professionals with information about the patient for use as part of reminiscence
therapy.8 These albums stimulate remote memories, which do not deteriorate as readily as current
memories, to help patients deal with Alzheimer’s disease and improve general well-being.
The aim of reminiscence therapy is to empower the patient, provide pleasure and improve both the
quality of life and the quality of care.9 Reminiscence therapy
targets the patient’s self esteem and confidence and results
in short-term improvements.10 Talking about the past can also
facilitate communication and improve the patient mood.11 More
comprehensive studies are required to better understand the
benefits of reminiscence therapy.12
Compiling a scrapbook photo album
Limited resources within treatment programs generally prevent
professional caregivers from compiling therapeutic biographies.
Consequently, this responsibility generally falls on the patient’s
family or other volunteers. Also, the patient’s family has photo-
graphs and other memorabilia required for the scrapbook photo
album and is in the best position to provide background infor-
Share your knowledge about creating albums. Remember, you
are not a licensed psychologist trained in phototherapy.13 But,
you are able to share information about how to make meaning-
ful albums.
The Creative Memories Memory Album TutorTM provides helpful
hints and journaling tips for creating a This is My Story album.
Recommend including photos of a patient’s family, friends and home environment; these offer a sense
of security and happiness. Include both older and recent photos to assist patients with recalling past
memories as well as more recent events.
Large, easily identifiable photographs are best. Many patients have poor eyesight and are unable to
make out fine details in a small photograph.14 Make sure journaling is written clearly using large letters
and simple language. A nurse or other caregiver can use these details to assist the patient.
The Creative Memories Memory Album
TutorTM provides helpful hints and journaling
tips for creating a This is My Story album. Album.PDF 3
If possible, include a photograph of the patient smiling:
“Seeing a photograph of one’s self smiling usually elicits
another smile, and helps instill feelings of happiness.”15
Share the importance of journaling. Let families know it’s
best if patients do their own journaling. Or, encourage
families to interview their loved ones about their child-
hood, family traditions and favorite activities.
Communication with Alzheimer’s patients requires com-
passion.16 Alzheimer’s patients live in a different world
and are functioning in the moment. Any interaction with
patients should reduce, rather than increase, anxiety.
Photographs and journaling related to traumatic events
or national tragedies, such as Sept. 11, 2001, require special sensitivity.17 These photographs may cause
the patient to relive the tragedy, with no therapeutic benefit.18 Avoid photographs and journaling that
cause patients to feel pain. If a patient experiences anxiety, move on to another photograph or switch
activities altogether.
Photographs and personal memorabilia help patients locate their rooms within treatment facilities.19, 20 For
this application, use a duplicate copy of a photograph with the patient’s name in bold letters on a single
album page. Attach the album page to the patient’s door, with adhesive, if necessary. Older photographs
may assist some Alzheimer’s patients more than more recent photographs.
Alzheimer’s patients can create meaningful albums
With assistance, patients with Alzheimer’s disease can create scrapbook photo albums. Creating an
album is a meaningful activity. In one study, patients in Israel received assistance in creating albums.21
The patients identified each other, had a starting point for further discussion, and generally found the
albums relaxing. In another study, an Alzheimer’s patient used a camera and journal to chronicle and
remember events.22 This activity helped this patient track and review his daily life.
Finding a cure to Alzheimer’s disease will require time. Yet, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease
need assistance now. Studies have shown that scrapbook photo albums can be one part of this assis-
tance, and Creative Memories Consultants can encourage patients and their families to complete mean-
ingful albums. In doing so, they will preserve the past, enrich the present and inspire hope for the future.
Photo of patient smiling
1. Photos
2. of family, friends and
home environment
Old and recent photos
3. Large, easy-to-identify photos
4. Don’t forget journaling
5. Album.PDF 4
Frances, I.; Barandiaran, M.; Marcellan, T.; Moreno, L. “Pscyhocognitive stimulation in dementia.” 1. Anales del
Sistema Sanitario de Navarra 2003, 26, 405-421.
Mayo Clinic Staff, “Alzheimer's: Momentos help preserve memories,” October 14, 2005. 2.
Koretsky, P. “Using Photography in a Therapeutic Setting with Seniors.” 3. Afterimage 2001, 29 (3), 8
Friedman, G. “Bathed in Memory.” 4. Boston College Magazine, Summer 2003
Clare, L.; Wilson, B. A.; Breen, K.; Hodges, J. R. “Errorless Learning of Face-Name Associations in Early 5. Alzheimer’s Disease.” Neurocase 1999, 5, 37-46.
McCracken, A.L.; Gilster, S. “Developing a viable residence for persons with Alzheimer's disease.”6. American
Journal of Alzheimer's Care and Related Disorders & Research 1991, 6, 39-43.
Cohen, G. D. “Two New Intergenerational Interventions for Alzheimer’s Disease Patients and Families.” 7. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2000, 15, 137-142.
Pittiglio, L. “Use of Reminiscence Therapy in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.” 8. Lippincott’s Case
Management 2000, 5, 216-220.
Woodrow, P. “Interventions for Confusion and Dementia 3: Reminiscence.” 9. British Journal of Nursing 1998, 7,
Gräsel, E.; Wiltfang, J.; Kornhuber, J. “Non-Drug Therapies for Dementia: An Overview of the Current 10. Situation with Regard to Proof of Effectiveness.” Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 2003, 15, 115-
Garner, J. “Psychotherapies and older adults.” 11. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2003, 37,
Spector, A., Orwell, M., Davies, S. Woods, R. T. “Reminiscence Therapy for Dementia (Cochrane Review).” 12. In The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2003. Oxford: Update Software.
Weiser, J. “PhotoTherapy Techniques.” 13. PhotoTherapy Centre, Vancouver, 1999.
Rentz, C. A. “Reminiscence: A Supportive Intervention for the Person With Alzheimer’s Disease.” 14. Journal of
Psychosocial Nursing 1995, 33, 15-20
Buckner, B. “Therapeutic Implications of Portrait Photography in a Nursing Home.” 15. Concern in Care of the
Aging 1978, 4, 31-32.
Ayres, L. “Compassionate Communication with the Memory Impaired.” 16. Ageless Design 2001, 16, 7-10; Ayres, L. “Compassionate Communication with Alzheimer's Patients,”
Ashton, Denise. “Therapeutic use of reminiscence with the elderly.” 17. British Journal of Nursing 1993, 2, 13,
Krauss, D. A. Personal communication, April 21, 2003.18. Nolan; B. A. D.; Mathews, R. M.; Harrison, M. “Using external memory aids to increase room finding by older 19. adults with dementia.” American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias 2001, 16, 251-254
Namazi, K. H.; Rosner, T. T. Rechlin, L. “Long-Term Memory Curing to Reduce Visuo-Spatial Disorientation in 20. Alzheimer’s Patients in a Special Care Unit.” American Journal of Alzheimer’s Care and Related Disorders &
Research 1991, 7, 10-15.
Weiner, R. L.; Abromowitz, L. “Use of Photographs as Therapy for Demented Elderly.” 21. Activities, Adaptation,
& Aging 1997, 21, 47-51.
Sandoz, C. J. “Photographs as a Tool in Memory Preservation for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.” 22. Clinical
Gerontologist 1996, 17, 69-71.
Creative Memories
3001 Clearwater Road
Saint Cloud, MN 56301-5949
... Koretsky (2001) advocates for the use of photographs with older adults in care facilities with memory deficits, noting that the images can often help people remember or recognize someone familiar and whom they care about, which can be particularly important when in a place that inherently seems unfamiliar. Additionally, photographs from the past can allow people to reminisce about pleasant times in their lives, while those from the present may help people relate to their current situation (Mizen, 2007). Albums can also help by giving information about individuals to care professionals, specifically as part of reminiscence therapy which aims to empower the individual and provide pleasure (Mizen, 2007). ...
... Additionally, photographs from the past can allow people to reminisce about pleasant times in their lives, while those from the present may help people relate to their current situation (Mizen, 2007). Albums can also help by giving information about individuals to care professionals, specifically as part of reminiscence therapy which aims to empower the individual and provide pleasure (Mizen, 2007). Koretsky (2001) notes the ability photography has given people "to freeze a moment in our lives, making it more tangible across time and space… to pass moments down to future generations" (p. ...
... In this study, the use of digital pictures as stimulation was found to be successful. This finding was in accordance with Koretsky (2001) and Mizen (2007) who advocate for using photographs with older adults in care facilities with memory deficits, for example as a way to help people remember or recognize someone familiar or to remind people of pleasant memories. While memory books and photo albums are commonly recommended and used by people with Alzheimer's and their families, the current study is unique in its use of a digital picture frame to display images. ...
... Inter-generational interaction based on media sharing: People keep special objects that helps them remind a person, place or an event [53]. One of the examples in practice is reminiscence therapy, a technique inducing a person to tell his own story by triggering his episodic memory [40,47]. Photos are one of the popular forms, which provides opportunities to reminisce and provoke an interaction. ...
... Alternative: Presenting the past photo alone, of the young 1st or 2nd generation. It is partly what the reminiscence therapy exercises -using a photo as a memento triggering a senior's episodic memory to elicit her own story [40,47]. This way, the 1st generation may actively lead the story. ...
... These findings from studies using generic materials confirm that participating in activities involving reminiscing have benefits for people with dementia. However, it has been suggested that personally-relevant stimuli (e.g., family photographs) may be even better reminiscing prompts for people with dementia (Mizen, 2003), and increase the chances of creating a 'failure-free' experience for people with dementia. This is because autobiographical significance may make conceptual knowledge resistant to loss over time (Westmacott et al., 2003) as it has been found that people with dementia recall events of personal significance better than non-significant events (Snowden et al., 1994). ...
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Reminiscing is a positive pastime for people with dementia but little is known about selecting materials to prompt reminiscing, particularly whether personal items are more useful than generic ones. This paper reports two small studies, the first using personal stimuli (family photographs) and the second generic photographs of annual events to examine their relative effectiveness as reminiscence prompts for people with dementia. Story telling and the types of information people with dementia produced in response to the photographs are examined. In response to family photographs, people with dementia told very few stories and produced quite limited information. When shown generic photographs, people with dementia produced quite detailed and emotional stories of personal significance. The findings suggest that personal items perform as a memory test for labels and descriptions of family events whereas generic items spark off different recollections in different people, thereby encouraging the sharing of stories and social reminiscing.
The rising population of older adult has contributed to the increasing number of elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Abundant new exciting applications have been developed to assist people with Alzheimer’s to support a better quality of life. The design of software product for older people should be carefully carried out as it could reduce the gap between computer technology and older people. Efficient and effective user design needs to be considered when developing an application for the elderly with memory and cognitive impairments. This paper presents a report on the usability evaluation of a personalized digital memory book application (my-MOBAL) for people with Alzheimer’s disease. It is developed for a 74 years old woman who is diagnosed with mild AD. The application was evaluated on its usability and functionality using seven (7) experts in Gerontology and HCI with more than ten (10) years experience in their fields. The results show that the application is user friendly, simple and easy to navigate. It was also suggested that the application would be a suitable tool to assist people with AD to use in their non-pharmacological therapy session.
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Background and objective: Aging is a sensitive period of human life and attention to the problems and needs of this stage is a social necessity. Among the common problems in this period, insufficiency in their memory performance and lack of happiness due to lack of social activities .Therefore, the aim of current research is to evaluate the effectiveness of making and collection of family albums on autobiographical memory and happiness in elderly. Methods: The current study is a semi-experimental study with pre-test and post-test with group control. The population of study was old employees who are member of Retirement organization of Tehran Municipality during 2015-2016. 30 older selected based on the inclusion criteria and they were randomly assigned to the control (n= 15) and experimental group (n=15).The experimental group received techniques of making and collection of family photo albums for 10 session (90 minutes, one session per week). The research instruments were Mini Mental State Examination (M.M.S.E), Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI) and Autobiography Memory Interview (AMI). For Statistical analysis used analysis of covariance and data was analyzed by SPSS software 23 version. Results: The finding of the covariance analysis indicated that there is a significantly difference in scores of autobiographical memory among older adults in pre and post-test (p
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The following collection of essays are an investigative analysis of the ways in which photography have and can be used in the creation of episodic memory and publication of our personal identities. How have we used and appropriated photography in our Exhibition of Self and to what effect?
The goal of this study is to retrieve important life fragments using a visual photo annotation interface and the familial stories behind the photos. We present the design of Picgo, a game-based reminiscence service that enables elders to capture memories, annotate photos, and iteratively reinforce the annotation of photos in a storytelling process. There are two main functions of the process of Picgo: (1) Capturing and Annotation; (2) Browsing and Reinforcement. Finally, by analyzing the relevance between the tags and calculating the impressive level of the photos, Picgo is able to provide meaningful reminiscent materials to caregivers and occupational therapists in reminiscence therapy that can trigger elders' memory successfully.
Conference Paper
Episodic memory exercises such as reminiscing and storytelling have been shown to provide therapeutic benefits for older adults by prolonging their ability to lead an independent lifestyle. In this paper, we describe a mobile reminiscence tool called Memory Karaoke, which facilitates episodic memory exercise through contextualized storytelling of meaningful experiences by using contextual cues such as location, time, and photos. We present results from two studies we conducted with Memory Karaoke to explore which contextual cues contribute to best exercising a person's episodic memory. Our findings suggest that while viewing photos do exercise episodic memory to some extent, additional contextual cues (e.g. location and time) can solicit a greater amount of episodic memory exercise. This suggests that Memory Karaoke's selective capture process and its ability to contextualize memories while users retell stories are two effective features which help it to support episodic memory use. These results, together with positive qualitative feedback, provide promising evidence for Memory Karaoke as a viable mobile alternative for helping older adults to exercise their episodic memory and, in turn, assist them in successfully "aging in place".
Errorless learning principles were applied in an intervention designed to teach a 72-year-old man in the early stages of dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) the names of 11 members of his social club. The intervention incorporated verbal elaboration, vanishing cues and expanding rehearsal. The proportion of faces correctly named increased significantly, rising from 22% at baseline to 98% following training. The gains generalized well from photographs to real faces in the natural environment and were fully maintained at follow up after 3, 6 and 9 months. Errorless learning may be a useful addition to the range of techniques available to professionals and carers for memory retraining in patients with early DAT.
Two new intergenerational interventions for Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients (with moderately severe to severe cognitive impairment) and families are being evaluated, with work to date described. Both interventions share the common goals of: • Introducing a novel long-term care intervention for Alzheimer patients and their families in order to increase the quality of life for both; • Increasing the incentive of family members, significant others, and volunteers to visit and spend time with AD patients; • Increasing staff knowledge of the patient as person; • Effecting a new intergenerational environment at sites providing care for AD patients; and • Providing a new paradigm for innovative budget neutral programs, requiring no new public monies, building upon and leveraging existing resources to enhance the quality of life of older adults coping with dementing disorders. The first intervention uses video biographies; the second involves the first game specifically designed for AD patients and their families. In pilot studies both interventions have been shown to increase patient engagement during visits approximately three-fold. Family and staff interest in both projects has been high.
Reminiscence may often be undervalued as a therapeutic activity. This article highlights the therapeutic potential of reminiscence and the important issues that need consideration for its effective use with elderly people suffering from dementia.
1. The person with Alzheimer's disease experiences multiple losses and transitions. The need for therapeutic interventions that preserve integrity, generate and maintain positive self-esteem, and enhance well-being is imperative. Reminiscence may be an appropriate nursing intervention to the cognitively impaired elderly. 2. The advantage of reminiscence as an intervention for the person with Alzheimer's disease is that the intervention focuses on remote memory; therefore, short-term memory becomes less important to both the participant and facilitator in the reminiscing activity. Props, such as photo albums and retrieval cues, may have to be used to stimulate the reminiscing activity. 3. Kovach's preliminary model of reminiscence, along with the observation of positive and negative affect as indicators of well-being, provide a framework for examining reminiscence as a supportive intervention with three individuals at different stages of Alzheimer's disease.
The aims of reality orientation, which was discussed in the previous article of this series (Vol 7(17): 1018-20), are to achieve behavioural improvements. The aims of reminiscence, however, are empowerment and the provision of pleasure and it is therefore more associated with quality of life and quality of care. Reminiscence can be an enjoyable activity. Used in a structured way, it can achieve a sense of wellbeing, and increase empathy between healthcare workers and clients. This article discusses the benefits and problems of reminiscence, and suggests means to develop reminiscence skills and materials.
When nursing home residents with dementia are unable to locate their own rooms, it often creates problems for staff and other residents. The impact of placing two external memory aids outside participants' bedrooms was evaluated by using a multiple-baseline design experiment. Three female special care unit (SCU) residents with severe Alzheimer's disease (MMSE = 5.7) participated in the study. Results showed that a combination of a portrait-type photograph of the participant as a young adult and a sign stating the resident's name increased room finding by over 50 percent with all three participants. Room finding stabilized at 100 percent accuracy for all participants within a few days of implementing the environmental intervention.