When a loved one experiences memory loss, preserving their memories and personal history takes on new importance. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can create a sense of urgency, but it is important to try to make the process of collecting memories a joyful experience–perhaps even one that creates new connections along the way.
Creating An Environment for Conversation
The first step is to create an environment or situation that will spark memories in your loved one to get the ball rolling. Asking your loved one a series of questions may be tiring or irritating for him or her, so it is important to plan for a relaxed situation conducive to natural conversation. Don’t feel like all the memories need to be collected at once – plan for multiple sessions and stop any time your loved one seems tired or is not enjoying the opportunity to reminisce.
Flipping through photos together and talking about the images is a good way to start. Pictures of people, favorite vacations, and special events can stir conversation you will want to record or at least capture in notes. Music can also stimulate memories, so consider playing favorite songs or tunes with sentimental meaning to your loved one. Favorite foods or flavors with meaning can trigger memories, so snacks that might be tied to events from the past may be a good choice.
What are the best ways to record memories for posterity?
When you are collecting notes and looking at photos with your loved one, make sure to label any unmarked photos with names, dates, and locations. Keep a journal of your notes, and consider making a scrapbook or arranging a photo album. Record your loved one’s voice on tape if you have the opportunity. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to capture photos and videos of our loved ones. There are even services such as http://www.imemories.com that can take old film, video, photographs, slides, etc. and turn them into digital video memories for your family to enjoy.
We encourage the families of our Parc Provence residents to make and preserve memories with their loved ones. Documenting a personal history and preserving a legacy can be therapeutic and enjoyable for the whole family. The process itself is rewarding, and the product of the effort will be cherished beyond measure. Parc Provence offers Art Therapy, providing an opportunity for residents to create Memory Books to collect and store these moments of their lives. Please contact our Art Therapy department if you are interested in learning more about this special way to preserve your loved one’s history.