People designing psychosocial interventions for people with dementia should be aware that viewing generic, rather than personal photographs, can also be a meaningful activity for the person with dementia. Moreover, viewing these photos digitally was found to be either similar to or better than viewing conventional printed photos.
Explanation and Examples
There is evidence that using Photos that are not personal (i.e. family photographs, or participants’ own photographs) More, versus personal family photos, in psychosocial interventions for people living with dementia can be more effective in promoting social interaction and eliciting stories with emotional and personal significance. Photos that are not personal (i.e. family photographs, or participants’ own photographs) More may feel less threatening compared to using personal photos in conversation with the person with dementia, the conversation that arises becomes more flexible and less demanding of remembering specific people or events. This can lead to better social interaction, mood, and eventually, better quality of life for the person with dementia.
Generic photographs can be more accessible and easier to acquire, lessening the time needed to, for example, ask for and collect family photographs from relatives (if these are still available). It has the potential to be cost-effective as well (compared to other art-based activities like museum visits), and has the potential to transcend societal or cultural differences.
These benefits may be even more pronounced, when Photos that are not personal (i.e. family photographs, or participants’ own photographs) More are used in a digitalized format, as previous research showed that viewing digitalized photos is similar to or better (due to the pleasurable experience of using virtual reality technology; Tominari et al., 2021; Xu & Wang et al., 2020) than viewing conventional printed photos.
ThemesCarers Digitalized photos Generic photos Meaningful activities People with dementia Social participation
Target groupsCare professionals/organisations Developers/designers Researchers
Type of evidence
Systematic literature review
Tan, J.R.O., Boersma, P., Ettema, T.P., Planting, C.H.M., Clark, S., Gobbens, R., & Dröes, R.M. (2022). The effects of psychosocial interventions using generic photos on social interaction, mood, and quality of life of persons with dementia: A systematic review. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Tominari, M., Uozumi, R., Becker, C., & Kinoshita, A. (2021). Reminiscence therapy using virtual reality technology affects cognitive function and subjective well-being in older adults with dementia. Cogent Psychology, 8(1), 1968991.