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Vintage photos from yesteryear provide wonderful reminiscing opportunities for the elderly living with dementia.
Remembering the past helps the elderly affirm their lives and uncover deep-seated memories. Be aware that old photos can trigger positive and negative emotions; be prepared to offer support and consolation when negative emotions surface.
Benefits of Reminiscing with Vintage Photos
Reminiscing activities provide so many benefits for the elderly. Reminiscing with old photos may assist them to:
- Come to terms with unresolved issues
- Find meaning in significant past events
- Cope with loss
- Promote balance in disoriented minds
How to Plan a Vintage Photo Reminiscing Activity
- Download supplied pictures and enlarge them if you wish.
- Seek props and other relevant materials pertaining to the pictures
- Seat residents around a table; preferably a round table
- Use questions provided to start conversations or come up with your own questions
Example of props: If the photo shows a Railway and Train you may bring a toy train and a track to add interest to the activity.
Vintage Photo Reminiscing - Group Session
The success of a group session will depend on the abilities of the clients involved. If all clients have dementia, it would be a good idea to get some help from volunteers or other staff.
- Prepare props or aids, if necessary, for two or three photos
- Show photo to the group for a minute or two asking them to describe what they see
- Pass the photo from client to client while maintaining the conversation
- Make sure each client holds the photo and has a good look at it
- Encourage shared talk as much as possible
- If reminiscing decreases, move on to another photo
Vintage Photo Reminiscing - One-on-One Session
- Show photo and ask client to describe it
- Eye contact with client is very important
- Ask questions and wait patiently for responses
- Encourage with tips about details on the photos
Vintage Photos Samples with Conversations Starters
Use the provided photos and converstation starters below or use your own.
1896 - They are all young men, machine-operators for a glass window manufacturer. Some are smoking pipes.
- Has anyone seen glass blowing?
- Apart from house windows what else can be made of glass?
- Why do all boys have a hat or cap?
- Don’t they look too young to work / smoke?
- People used to have more children
- Why might they be pulling petals from flowers?
- Hair styles of lady and children
Cable Car Kitchen
- Has anyone travelled in a cable car?
- The cable car in the picture is still in use in California Street
- In the 1960s trams stopped being used in many countries. Are they still in use in your country?
- What is the best thing about travelling by tram?
Dresden construction workers in 1900
- Is it lunch time?
- What are they constructing?
- What is in the background?
- What happened to Dresden in Feb 1945?
Knott’s Berry Farm 1920
- What type of vehicle is is?
- What was your first car?
- How many sorts of berries do you know?
- Do you think the couple are the owners or tourists?
Regardless of how long the session lasts (it should last between 30 and 40 minutes) participants will benefit from the social contact and shared memories.
If you wish to extend the session, end it with a sing-along of an old song such as Lilli Marlene, Lily of Laguna, Some Enchanted Evening, or Maria Elena.
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