What if the secret to happiness is hiding in an old photo album? Long after special moments have passed, photos can prompt us to remember and relive good times. For seniors these snapshots are more than nostalgic artifacts, they can stimulate a positive attitude, build relational and conversational bridges, and improve memory.
“Pictures can strengthen both memory and relationships,” notes psychologist, Dr Ira Hyman, “But this only works if you review the pictures.” As we age, getting access to those photos can be increasingly difficult. Downsizing means albums get packed in boxes out of sight. Advancing technology means seniors may never even see the precious photos digitally stored in a loved one’s smartphone.
Fortunately there are many easy and rewarding ways to bring those photos out for review, and in the process give everyone involved the chance to experience the happiness of reliving the good old days.
KEEP ALBUMS CLOSE
Rather than hiding photo albums in a spare room or storage area, bring them out to the living area where they can be easily accessed. To avoid clutter consider bringing out a couple at the time and then after a while exchanging them for different ones.
TRADE PORTRAITS FOR STORIES
Professional family photos can remind us of the people we love, but sometimes it’s the informal ones that tell the story. Take time to look through albums and find photos that prompt a memory or a story, and then give them a place of prominence where they are easy to see and review.
Smartphones allow us to take more photos than ever, but seniors can often be left out of the loop when it comes to viewing them! Print one or two special pictures from recent events and share them with the senior. Make it extra special by sending them “snail mail” and creating the double happiness of getting personal mail with happy memories included inside.
MAKE IT A MUG
Online services like VistaPrint as well as local vendors like Costco offer lots of options for making memories multi-purpose. A mug, a calendar, a deck of cards can all become bearers of great image that bring a smile to a senior’s face every day.
Don’t forget the value of screen savers and digital picture frames when it comes to showing off photos taken on smartphones and digital cameras. And for seniors who are comfortable using tablets take time to introduce them to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
REVIEW & RECORD
Talking about the memories associated with each photo is where the real magic happens. As the nostalgia flows jot down a few notes on the back of the images. As the years go by these short notes will help keep memories clear and sharp and serve generations to come.
The secret to happiness for you and the seniors in your life may be right at your fingertips; you only need look at it, talk about it and remember!