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LET’S BUILD MEMORY BOOKS FOR OUR LOVED ONES WITH ALZHEIMER’S TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally – it’s vital to pay attention to both your physical health and your mental health.

Assistance to the Elderly is expanding its focus and raising awareness about the connection between physical health and mental health, especially for those that are the most vulnerable in our community, low-income older adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

At Assistance to the Elderly’s assisted living community, Residential Plaza, all activities are geared towards the connection between physical health to mental health; promoting activities that engage our residents with pet therapy, spirituality and religion, humor, recreation and social relationships as ways to boost mental health and general wellness. This approach is true for all of the residents at Residential Plaza, especially for those at the Memory Care Program which provides an affordable 24-hour specialized care, based on the Montessori for Aging and Dementia Program, in a home-like environment for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related disorders.

One of the activities recommended fostering social connections for people with Alzheimer’s and their families is to build Memory Books. For people living with dementia, reading is a preserved skill. Therefore, visual aids that include written information can be used as memory supports. Memory books can improve quality of life by:

Helping people remember important information.
Making conversation easier.
Reducing responsive (challenging) behaviors, such as exit seeking and repetitive questioning.
Providing reassurance and comfort.
A memory book is a simple story of a person’s life.

The book can be made simply with a three-ring binder with non-glare page protectors. Each page contains a single photograph or memento and one sentence describing it. Sentences are written in the first person and include the names of people and places shown in the photo.

Memory books can be used to facilitate conversations during family visits. They are also an excellent way for care partners to get to know new individuals living in the care community.

Here are some simple guidelines to help you use a memory book in conversation:
Ask the person to have a conversation with you.
Guide the conversation by commenting on the photos and information in the memory book.
Redirect the conversation back to the topic when the person begins to ramble.
Reassure the person and help out when he or she gets stuck and can’t find a word.
Smile and act interested in whatever the person is talking about even if you aren’t sure what is being said.
Thank the person for talking with you.

There are a few common pitfalls you will want to avoid when using a memory book in conversation.
Do not quiz the person or ask a lot of specific questions.
Do not correct or contradict something that was stated as fact even if you know it’s wrong.

A memory book is a simple tool that can significantly improve the quality of life for a person living with dementia.

To learn more about making a memory book visit: www.brushdevelopment.com

To learn more about Residential Plaza’s Memory Care Program visit: www.atteinc.org