© 0.4 2020

USEFUL SCIENCE

pix or it never

happened

words & photography Taylor Lunde

USEFUL SCIENCE

pix or it never happened

how memory loss affects us as we age and what you can do to prevent it

words & photography: Taylor Lunde

About 40% of people aged 65 or older have age-associated memory impairment. In the United States, the total is about 16 million people. That's f*cking terrifying.  As a nurse, I've witnessed the true devastation of memory loss as it not only affects the individual but those who love them as well. It's something that can affect us all, but we can actively try to help our brain prevent it.

Analog photography (AKA film) is the approach I've taken to proactively maintain my #mems as I age. Science supports this approach, too.

Why Analog Photography?

We assume our memories are ours forever but unless we take measures to preserve them, they might not be. In my search to find ways to prevent memory loss, I looked for a solution that would allow me to catalog memories and moments. 

 

Analog photography offered me this, with its requirement to slow down in order to capture.

The Scientific Evidence: Pix or It Never Happened

Scientific literature tells us photography is a very effective means of providing those with diseases affecting memory a way to consider and catalog meaning in their everyday lives. As it gets harder to remember even the most ordinary things, photography, in a very practical sense, promotes both physical and cognitive engagement.

 

In addition, researchers found that it is critical those living with memory loss continue to participate in meaningful leisure activities, like photography, as a way to both sustain ability and secure a sense of hope.

Takeaways:

  • When taking photos, you're engaged physically and cognitively.

  • Photos offer an effective way to catalog meaning in our everyday lives.

  • Photography is a way for memory loss patients to sustain hope.

How Photography Is Helping Me

Film keeps me in the company of my memory at more regular intervals. It's also allowed me to improve my mental well-being in the following ways: 

  1. Developing film has increased my mindfulness
    I find myself being more present with my memories as they unfold – capturing the warmth of the sun or the smell of my home the best I can. I recall these simple senses while I develop the film in my kitchen sink, and again as I hang them to dry. 
     

  2. The process of developing film mirrors memory encoding
    The long (and albeit inconvenient) process of using and developing film lends me the repeated opportunity with a single roll to spend quality time with these treasured ordinary moments; moments that would otherwise be fleeting.
     

  3. Reframing the act of 'preserving memory' to 'experiencing art' has helped with my anxiety about future loss
    What started out as a practical way to preserve memory grew to be me experiencing art, maybe for the first time, and art transcended my fear of loss.