Ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day, these recreated photographs shed light on living with dementia and memory loss.
With dementia and Alzheimer’s, memory loss or memory difficulties can be common, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t painful. Whether your loved ones are living with dementia, or you are, the loss of memory can feel similar to grief.
To mark World Alzheimer’s Day, a group of people affected by dementia in some way have ‘gone back in time’. They have recreated old photographs from their past, that hold a special place in their hearts.
These photographs have been published to encourage the nation to take their own walks down memory lane and complete a Memory Walk. The aim is to complete the Walk by Sunday 20th September, in aid of Alzheimer’s Society.
Alzheimer’s Society’s services have been a lifeline for thousands of people during the coronavirus pandemic, used over two million times since lockdown began. But the charity has been badly hit financially, standing to lose up to half its annual income.
Lorraine Brown, 67, from Rainham in Kent was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago. She chose a school photo full of special memories.
“The first thing I remember about this picture is that I hated this frilly dress — I used to be so jealous of my friends because they were allowed to wear jeans! I went to school in Hackney and have so many fond memories of my time there. In the summer I remember running outside every day and going to the ice cream van that waited at the gates.
“I loved reading —anything to do with English and poetry transported me to another world and one of my favourite things to do even now is read to my children and grandchildren. I was a very creative child and they used to say I was “away with the fairies” a lot, often with my head in a book.”
Michelle Moore, 31, from Coventry, did a Memory Walk last year for both her dad, Nigel (59) who was diagnosed with dementia last year and her nan, who passed away in 2018 with dementia. Her favourite childhood photographs revolve around the family’s annual summer holiday.
“When I was young, we didn’t go on many holidays, but our grandparents would take us to Newquay almost every year. I will always remember my dad going out of his way to make sure we had the most amazing holiday and we spent hours at the beach constructing the most extravagant sandcastles. This photo, and the chance to recreate it after my dad’s diagnosis, means a lot to me and my brother Adam.”
And Canterbury-based Keith Oliver, 64, re-created a photograph of him painting when he was a boy. Keith was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s almost a decade ago and has particularly fond memories of his time at school.
“I remember school being a very happy time for me. These memories were a driving force for me deciding to become a primary school teacher myself and I went on to become a head teacher. It’s been a while since I painted, even though it was my favourite thing to do as a young boy, but me and my grandson sometimes paint toy soldiers together. Recreating this photo has been a wonderful way of returning, if only for a little while, to my own childhood.”
People with dementia will often experience difficulties with their memory, particularly in the short-term, which interfere with their day-to day activities. However, memories are also influenced by emotion and often by looking at an old photo. A person with dementia might be able to trigger a memory by remembering a smell, a piece of music, or how they felt at the time.
Kate Lee, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said, “These photos really shows the importance of cherished memories for people affected by dementia, and are such a vital way to ensure each and every person is seen and remembered as an individual.
“Memory Walk is the perfect way not only to think back on your own favourite memories of people affected by dementia, but also to raise much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s Society. During the pandemic, our services have never been in greater demand, but, with our Memory Walk season unable to take place as it normally would, we urgently need your help to help others.”
To sign up and find out more information, visit www.memorywalk.org.uk