Connecting Past and Memory

Creating a photo book to remember life’s journey.

This article was written by a guest contributor, and the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author.

The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” can be expanded to: A picture can be worth a thousand … memories, feelings, connections or smiles.

Eileen Wicks. Photo courtesy of Trevor Wicks.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often include short-term memory loss. Stimulating memories on a regular basis is beneficial to the brain and the spirit. Pictures with short, bold captions containing information or a story behind the graphic can bring back long-forgotten memories.

Eileen started meeting with me in the spring of 1962 down at the old water mill in a small English village.

Now, we live on Vancouver Island in B.C. after a very full and interesting life together.

Eileen started developing dementia about eight years ago and still has an active life.

Remembering the thousands of people and places from the past was made easier after we created a life story book called 26,000 Days.

"A home TV displaying your life story from a laptop or tablet can create a lot of conversations during family visits, birthdays or at Christmas."

– Trevor Wicks

Photo courtesy of Trevor Wicks.

The book includes old and new photographs, maps and explanatory captions in chronological order. The photos were scanned and digitized to a computer file and then a series of chapter headings were created. These chapters consisted of life phases spanning about 10 years. Selecting the best pictures and stories for each chapter was top of mind.

A look inside 26,000 Days.

PowerPoint was used to assemble the pages, allowing both pictures and captions to be resized, moved around and replaced if they did not work out. The layout per page could be one picture with a small caption of information, or an assembly of multiple pictures and text. Keeping the content interesting and diverse required some investigation on Google Earth and old travel documents.

The PowerPoint pages can be converted to digital files for printing or placed on a disc or thumb drive for family and friends. A home TV displaying your life story from a laptop or tablet can create a lot of conversations during family visits, birthdays or at Christmas.

Having a book printed in colour is an option; the cost can vary considerably from less than $20 per copy to $1 per side on limited runs.

Reminders of past abilities and skills can initiate activities that may have been dormant for years.

A look inside 26,000 Days.

Playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing, art and cooking can be resurrected from information developed in a life story.  

The book provides care partners helping people with dementia a clear perspective of the individual's background and family connections.

A photographic record of individuals with dementia who have few or no known relatives could improve the chances of being connected to missing family members. Genealogy and family history can be important to younger and future generations; a pictorial life story can fill in gaps of information to family or friends.

Toward the end of a person's life journey, their life story pages can be projected during a celebration of life and the information can be used to write an interesting obituary.

On a more personal note, a person's life story captured in pictures and text has become more relevant than I could have imagined.

Eileen looks at our book often. "It brings back many memories and makes me grateful that we were fortunate to have had such an interesting life," she says.

Being able to look back on life with pictures is like opening the blinds in a darkened room and seeing a beautiful scene outside on a lovely sunny day.


Trevor Wicks has been retired for many years after a wide variety of employment and careers, starting as an indentured apprentice at the age of 15. The list includes printing, farming, boat building, horticulture, construction, property management, videographer, and a wide range of innovations. Currently he is fully occupied with volunteering in the community, singing with Eileen, and protecting and caring for the environment.