We look back at our lives as a series of memories of people and events. Our memories remind us of what we’ve done, where we’ve been and who we are. Dementia takes away these memories.
If you are caring for a person with dementia, you can help them revisit their memories by creating a “place” for them to find them. You can become a link to their past by mapping out and documenting their life story.
Help preserve memories by:
- Writing down your loved one’s stories
- Putting important mementos in a keepsake box or chest
- Creating a scrapbook of photos, letters, postcards, newspaper clippings, etc
- Displaying their childhood photos
- Making audio or video recordings of their personal stories
Interview the person with dementia. Reminiscing with them about their family and traditions or celebrations they experienced growing up is a good place to start. Childhood homes or pets are good topics – especially as dementia progresses and more recent events beome difficult to remember. Discuss their favourite movies, books, music, sports or hobbies. Ask them about any historically significant events they may have experienced growing up.
If necessary, interview other people from your loved one’s past who may have shared memories and experiences with them. Friends, family, neighbours or other close contacts may be helpful in putting together stories from the past.
Old documents may also contribute to the story. Correspondence, legal documents or other important papers may bring back memories for your loved one.
Documenting your loved one’s life story for them can reaffirm all the positive and meaningful things they have done in their life, and can still do. Even though their memory is fading, creating a life story shows them that their legacy is respected and valued. It also helps remind you of who they were before dementia.
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