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How To Capture & Evoke Memories For Your Parent With Dementia

How to Capture & Evoke Memories For Your Parent with Dementia

Memory problems in seniors can be devastating. You might feel like your parent barely remembers the best moments of their life. 

Caring for a parent with dementia can be heartbreaking and taxing. With the right activities, you can help bring some of their best memories to the surface again. Here are some ways to help your parent reminisce on their favorite memories in soothing ways. 

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Memory Loss 

The human memory system works on two levels: short-term and long-term. Each type of memory is stored in a separate part of the brain, so it’s entirely possible for your parent to only struggle with short-term memory loss. This means they’ll likely remember their younger days. These precious long-term memories can include childhood, weddings, anniversaries, and more. 

When trying to evoke memories for your parent with dementia, it’s important to recognize what’s sentimental to them. For example, their wedding from 40 years ago is stored in their long-term memory bank, and it’s something they probably remember fondly. It’s best to bring this up over a more recent memory that may have been lost to dementia. 

Use Photographs and Albums to Review Their Life Story

The old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” For seniors with dementia, this phrase rings especially true. Sometimes, your parent might struggle to recall memories on their own, but an old photograph can bring the details back instantly. 

Review any scrapbooks and photo albums your parent has kept throughout the years. Whether it’s your childhood baby book or a family scrapbook that’s been passed down for generations, certain pictures are sure to evoke pleasant memories. 

This also works for creating future memories as well. You can capture the best moments in your parent’s life after a dementia diagnosis. That way, you can both look back in a few years and hold those recent memories close to your hearts. 

The Power of Music: Using Songs for Recall 

Music is one of the most powerful tools for recalling memories, particularly in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Old beloved songs can bring back fond memories for your parent, even if they can’t recall every little detail. 

Researchers believe that music also has a soothing effect on seniors with memory and cognition problems. You can’t go wrong by turning on old records and reminiscing with your loved one. 

Collect and Read Cards and Letters From Loved Ones 

If your parent was always a collector, chances are they still have old greeting cards and letters stored away somewhere. Pull these out whenever you want to share some great memories. Sometimes reading the writing of another person can help your parent recall events and milestones that they had previously forgotten. 

You can also make a point to continue giving them cards and letters. Like photo albums, new cards and letters can serve as wonderful recall tools in the next few years. You can preserve the precious memories you’re making with them right now by writing a special note. 

Bring Out Old Heirlooms and Antiques 

Since long-term memory is more likely to be preserved in dementia patients, it makes sense to use old items to bring up past memories. If your parent has any family heirlooms, sentimental items, or antiques, try sifting through them together. You never know what this might stir up in their mind. 

You can also search for antique items from their childhood years at local thrift stores and yard sales. They might not have owned these specific items themselves, but they can serve as visual reminders of the time they grew up in. 

Preserving Precious Memories for Your Parent 

There are always opportunities for connection and memory-making in the present day. If you care for your parent with dementia, you probably experience lots of stress and overwhelm. However, focusing on the small moments of connection throughout your days together can create wonderful memories that will last for years to come. 

Don’t forget to live in the moment and make note of today’s memories. Take lots of pictures, save every card, and collect memorabilia to preserve the most important memories in your parent’s seniorhood. Neither of you will regret it. 

If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

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