What is a Memory Book?
A memory book is a book filled with pictures, captions, and other memorabilia that is personalized to the individual with dementia. It serves as a way to improve recall, orientation, and communication for someone with memory difficulties.
Memory books tap into reminiscing and storytelling to ignite memories and emotions. They provide a meaningful activity for the person with dementia and their loved ones to connect and share in. Memory books can help dementia patients remember important details about their lives, families, and personal histories. They also serve as a tool caregivers can use to answer repetitive questions in a patient, caring way.
Who Should Use a Memory Book?
Memory books can benefit those with:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Normal Age-Related Memory Loss
They provide a way for loved ones to reconnect and interact with someone who is experiencing cognitive decline. Memory books are appropriate for individuals with mild, moderate, or severe dementia. They can be used in the early stages as a prevention tool, or later on as a way to manage symptoms.
How to Make a Memory Book
Follow these steps to create a memory book at home:
- Photo albums or blank books
- Photos from the person’s life
- Memorabilia like ticket stubs or postcards
- Craft supplies like decorative paper, glue, scissors
Gather old family photo albums, yearbooks, scrapbooks or frames. Look for pictures from their childhood, wedding day, family vacations, etc. Ask extended family and friends to contribute photos as well. Collect any memorabilia you may have saved like concert tickets, pressed flowers, pins, postcards, awards etc.
- Cover page with name & photo
- Table of contents
- Personal history/childhood
- Family & friends
- Hobbies & talents
- Career highlights
- Favorite memories & experiences
- Current home & location info
- Daily schedule & routines
- Medical/emergency info
Decide how you want to organize the memory book. Often grouping content into categories works best. Be sure to include lots of photos and keep text simple with 1-2 sentence captions. Focus on positive, fun memories that will bring them joy.
- Large font (24 pt+)
- Lots of photos
- Short 1-2 sentence captions
- Simple page layouts
- Plastic sleeves to protect pages
Use large print that is easy to read. Choose a clean, simple format with lots of white space. Use plastic sleeves or laminate pages to make them sturdy and safe for repeated use.
Involve Your Loved One
- Reminisce together over photos
- Encourage them to share stories
- Capture their memories in writing
Look at photos together and ask open-ended questions to encourage reminiscing. Have them share their memories and document them in writing to personalize the book. This will spark emotions and help them connect.
Using the Memory Book
- Read through the book together
- Use it to answer repetitive questions
- Spark conversations with prompts
- Focus on quality time, not quizzing
Set aside quality one-on-one time to look through the memory book together. Let it guide you through their life story. Use it to gently redirect repetitive questions. Avoid quizzing them, instead allow the book to spark meaningful conversations. Update it with current events and new memories you make together.
Memory books provide a simple way to reconnect with your loved one. By sharing memories and bonding over past experiences, they can greatly improve mood, behavior, and relationships.