For some people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, personal mementoes can help preserve memories. 

A familiar aroma, the touch of a loved item – like a baseball – from the past, the sight of a beloved photo or piece of art, the melody of a song. All of these can trigger memories for people living with dementia. Here are five ways you can help them, while spending time together.

Man Reading a Book

  1. Create a memory box. The box can include items such as heirlooms, souvenirs, or mementoes from a recent trip or outing. When your loved one sees the items and holds them, the memories associated with them may come to mind.
  2. Look at photographs and old family videos. If possible, convert old VHS tapes to a digital DVD for preservation and greater ease of use.
  3. Listen to music. Music benefits people living with dementia in a number of ways, including helping with cognitive skills, stress reduction, and socialization. Familiar melodies and lyrics can sometimes trigger memories deep in the brain.
  4. Record an oral history. Spending time on this project can strengthen family bonds and preserve your loved one’s voice and image. The key is to be patient and know when it's time to take breaks.
  5. Harness the power of sensory stimulation, particularly the senses of smell and touch. Whether it’s the aroma of a favorite perfume or freshly cut grass, smells can trigger memories. And the sense of touch comes to the forefront in the feel of familiar objects or undertaking a simple craft project.

If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, our nurses at 1.866.KINDRED can help answer questions you may have about how to get help. We’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to listen and try to help.

By Dave Inman