When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, one of the hardest things to watch is when their memory starts to become hazy and eventually disappear. However, caregivers and family members have a unique opportunity at this time in their loved one’s life. While everyday events may be difficult for the senior to remember, oftentimes their past memories are quite vivid and clear. Jimmie Fay Griffin, Executive Director of YourLife™ of Tallahassee, says that this is the perfect time to preserve memories and moments as they happen. “As a caregiver, you, in essence, become your loved one’s memory,” Griffin says. “Encouraging him or her to delve into memories and talk about important events from the past is a beautiful way to strengthen and deepen your relationship. And the act of documenting your loved one’s history can be therapeutic, enjoyable and comforting for your entire family.” “At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, a Memory Care community in Tallahassee, Florida, our YourStory programming helps each resident create new opportunities to learn and engage. We have seen firsthand the wonderful discoveries that can happen when seniors with dementia are encouraged to explore and create.” If you’re a caregiver or a family member of someone living with dementia, here are some different ways to evoke memories and create meaningful moments any time, any day, no matter what you’re doing or what stage of memory loss your loved one is in.
How to Create Moments
- Tap into your loved one’s old favorites. Long-term memory becomes the strongest form of memory for individuals with dementia, and using something from their past that they loved – like a favorite song or movie – can get them singing along or tapping their feet. Music has also been shown to unlock different aspects of a person’s brain, and there are many stories from caregivers who’ve used music to help communicate and share memories with their loved ones.
- Spend time leafing through a photo album. Old photos and scrapbooks are excellent for helping draw memories from individuals with dementia. Spend time sitting with your loved one and asking questions about the people in the photos or events that were taking place. Although not every item will spur a memory, some of them will – and when they do, be sure to encourage the conversation as much as possible.
- Have a family reunion or take a visit to their hometown. Traveling with a senior with dementia can be difficult. However, spending time walking in the footsteps of the past – sometimes literally – can create a sense of comfort and unlock chapters of your loved one’s life. A family reunion is a great opportunity for socialization and reminiscing, and visiting some of your loved one’s favorite places from their youth can be an opportunity to stroll down memory lane.
- Use the power of the senses. We’ve all had the experience of smelling a certain perfume or food and immediately being transported to the past. That’s because smell is one of the strongest memory triggers, followed closely by taste. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, we use aromatherapy to help soothe and engage our residents, but you can do the same in your home. A favorite childhood treat, a familiar perfume or a bouquet of her favorite flowers can bring back unexpected, powerful memories.
- Know what questions to ask. It’s easy for individuals with dementia to become overwhelmed, especially when it comes to drawing out memories. Be patient and let your loved one take the lead. Don’t ask whether they remember something, and don’t put them on the spot. Open-ended questions are the best for prompting stories, and sometimes just making a comment on a photo will be enough to spark recognition.
How to Capture Moments
While creating these opportunities for reminiscing is rewarding, don’t forget to preserve them so they can be treasured for years to come. Here are some easy ways to capture memories for family members and friends:
- Label photos and keepsakes. As you go through scrapbooks with your loved one, write down the memories, as well as the people and places preserved in the photographs. Later, you can create an album with the photos and stories alongside one another.
- Create a memory box. Trinkets, mementos, articles and other non-photo memorabilia can be stored for future generations in a beautiful keepsake box. Be sure to keep a record of what each piece means so you always have the story as well.
- Make a record (video or audio). The best way to preserve your loved one’s memories is by hearing them tell them. Grab your cell phone or a video camera and record your loved one recounting stories. You can also record family visits or simply transfer old home movies to DVD.
- Say cheese. Impromptu moments of joy can be hard to capture. Enjoy the moment, and don’t be afraid to take a photo after the fact or record it in some way so you can remember it.
For more information about creating and capturing meaningful moments with your loved one, please contact our team today at 850-250-5671.
Inspired ● Engaged ● Fulfilled
If someone you love is living with memory loss, you want the very best for them. You’ll find it at YourLife™ of Tallahassee. Because Memory Care is all that we do, we have the unique ability to focus all our energy, attention and resources into creating an environment that caters to each resident’s needs, preferences and abilities while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. We see each resident as an individual because we understand that each resident has their own story. Using this idea, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence while creating beautiful days. No matter how much care they need, our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists can provide assistance with all activities of daily living while providing reminders, guidance, support and cues. Even better, residents and their families experience true peace of mind knowing that expert care is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our personal touch doesn’t stop at our care. In fact, it’s only the beginning. We create days that leave residents feeling Inspired. Engaged. Fulfilled through our signature programming, YourStory. With individual experiences centered around each resident, engaging outings, services and amenities, activities, dining and more, we create opportunities to learn and pursue new endeavors. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, everything was designed for you, but it is defined by you, creating a lifestyle that makes every day a joy. Contact us to learn more!