Great chat on Twitter tonight about making sure we capture as many memories with our loved ones as possible. Made me think it was time to post this. This is an alternative to the Life Journal I mentioned in previous posts about the dementia workshop I attended.
You may know that I visited a colleague of my AN in order to gain some ideas for activities to do with nan. She also told me about the Life Journal she does. This one seems much better suited to dementia patients, and is simple to make, alongside your loved one.
- Buy a scrapbook with plain pages, about A3 sized. No plastic covers on the pages, as the light can reflect and make it hard for the caree to read and concentrate.
- Frame each individual paragraph and photograph with a little border of coloured paper, as it helps draw the eye and keep them focused.
On the first page be sure to put a photo of your caree as they are now, as it will help them recognise themselves, and that this book is their own. Followed by a little dedication, whatever your caree wants to say. You can prompt this by asking who they would like to read book, and where they would like it to end up
- Keep paragraphs short. 2 or three sentences maximum
- All photographs need labels, who they are of and where they were, possibly when if it is remembered.
- Type up in a large clear font of your carees choice so it is easily read
To help you get started go through some old photos and memorabilia with your loved one, and if they can give you any details write it down so it can be used for the journal.
- Make sure every page has a header, so the caree knows what to expect from each page e.g. 1) Parents
4) Working Life
6) Finding Love
Have some images related to the subject of the page, e.g. war slogans for the childhood, or doves for the wedding. As they help to prompt.
If the caree has a special memory for each event they are more likely to remember it, as it is emotional and so they can relate. Looking at old photos, jewellery etc can help to trigger these emotions, as well as smelling old perfumes (we found nan’s hidden in a drawer) or listening to songs.
If your caree does not have photos of an event, such as their time at school you can look on the internet for photos of the building, or the area etc.
If there is a group of people in the photo, remember to circle which one your loved one is, as they may not remember it later on. If you do not want to draw on original photographs use photocopies.
Only use a couple of photos and a couple of statements to each page.
And finally use a selection of materials and textiles to encourage your loved ones to touch and feel. This can help to stimulate the senses, getting them involved and hopefully triggering memories.
It really is important to learn as much as you can while you can, as it will help your caree in the future and gives you something to remember your loved one by. Also capture them enjoying themselves now, like I am with nan, as they will be the ones you treasure most