Think about the life events for which you intentionally capture memorable pictures. Baby’s first Christmas, baptisms, engagements, weddings, high school graduations, bar mitzvahs, vacations, milestone birthdays, anniversaries. Whether you hire a local photographer or capture the moments via iPhone, you are ensuring these passages in time will live on for future generations.
When a loved one is sick or otherwise requires care, taking pictures of them is often the last thing on your mind. It shouldn't be. I regret not taking more pictures with my mother during her final years. I wanted to remember her as the healthy, mobile, energetic woman that she was, not the helpless person that Multiple Sclerosis had reduced her to. The end result is that I have a disproportionate number of pictures from earlier and mid-life relative to her last five years, of which I have few. (And this regardless of how much easier it became to take, store, post and print pictures in the smart phone / social media age. Sigh.)
Here are three reasons why you should capture moments with your loved one even through the most challenging times.
They want to be seen as something other than "the old one needing care"
As humans in the social media age, we seem programmed to focus on documenting the celebratory times, with a disproportionate emphasis on the healthy and youthful. It’s time to change that! Let’s challenge that behavior by celebrating our aging loved ones—their vitality, their spirit, all that they have taught us. Make them the focal point. Celebrate their life. Make them the center of attention for something other than “care”.
It's an opportunity to get the family together outside
The next pleasant, sunny day, take a walk outside. Stage a photo shoot with your loved one in the front yard, back yard or at a nearby park. Perhaps they have a favorite tree or plant they’d love to capture in the background. Maybe they love tulips. Buy them a bouquet to hold during the shoot! Wheelchairs, electric chairs, canes, and walkers can be adorned with balloons, ribbons, flowers or any type of festive decoration your loved one would like. If you can’t get outside, pick a sunny room in the house to use as your backdrop. And if your loved one is bed-ridden (so long as you have their consent) simply move the shoot to their room. Play music. Make it fun. Remember that laughter is the best medicine, and strive for positivity.
Friends and family will treasure the pictures you share
When you are done, select the pictures you and your loved one like the best and post, email and distribute away! Make sure to print more copies than you think you’ll need in case friends or family members ask. CVS and Walgreen’s have easy-to-use online print services, as does Costco and other chain stores. Have a photo printer? Print at home! Frame your favorite photos and compile them all into a memory photo book for safekeeping.
Imagine the joy on your loved one’s face in looking at these photos and remembering that pleasant, sunny day. That day they felt appreciated and loved. That day they felt beautiful. That otherwise ordinary day they will cherish forever.