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Dementia Activities for Face and Name Recognition

As dementia progresses, your loved one may lose their ability to recognize once-familiar faces and names — it’s important to work with them and use recollection exercises to preserve these precious memories for as long as possible.

Typically, the ability to recognize family members and friends begins to deteriorate during the middle stage of dementia. Although dementia’s progression cannot be stopped, there are certain exercises you can do to help your loved one maintain their memories for as long as possible.

To begin, establish where your loved one’s current memory abilities lie. Begin by sharing photos of family members and friends in their immediate circle (spouse, children, siblings, parents), then begin to widen the circle to people they do not see regularly — but who are still important to them (cousins, friends, aunts, uncles). Continue to widen the circle until you identify where your loved one begins to struggle with recognition.

As your loved one begins to have difficulties recognizing those in the photos, use association clues. An association clue for a photo of your loved one’s brother, Sam, may be: “Oh brother, smiling Sam.”

It’s important to continue going through these photos weekly, if not more often. As memory slips further, clearly labeling each photo with the person’s name and relationship to your loved one can evoke recollection.