Dementia is an illness that can put a lot of strain on a family and be a very challenging time for everyone involved. However, because a loved one is suffering from Dementia, it does not mean special memories can’t still be captured for all the family at this difficult time.
Preserving memories for a family member with dementia could happen in a number of ways; this could be; turning on their favourite band, having photos on the coffee table or reminiscing could occur spontaneously during family gatherings (so keep the notepad or video camera ready!).
Here are some other tips on how to create long lasting memories between the family and your loved one with Dementia:
1. Involve Other Family Members – Don’t put your loved one on the spot, ask open ended questions such as “What’s your favourite memory about our family holidays” this is to encourage them to share rather than them feeling quizzed.
2. Look at Family Photos Together – Don’t ask questions such as “Who’s this”, provide a running commentary, for example, “That looks like Grandad when he was younger” or “This picture looks like it is at a wedding”. If certain photos spark vivid memories for your loved one suffering from Dementia, keep them aside and have them handy for your loved one to look at again.
3. Share Your Memories As Well As Theirs – Make reminiscing a two way street, tell some of your own stories but be a patient listener when it comes to your loved ones stories. If your family member struggles to find the right words just be patient, you may be rewarded with a wonderful memory.
4. Ask Personal Questions But Avoid Interrogating – If there is something your loved one doesn’t want to share then that is totally fine. Keep questions conversational but probe now and again for the extra details.
5. Don’t Expect Long Sharing Sessions – If your loved one seems tired or frustrated, call it a day. However, be prepared to listen for as long as your family member wants to keep sharing, focus on what your loved one can and wants to remember, pay attention to their limitations and potential opportunities to reminisce accordingly.
These helpful tips will encourage your loved one to share more of the memories they have. Remember, be patient, their memories may not coming flooding back all at once, giving them some time to digest photos and sharing sessions could result in your loved one remembering, and feeling comfortable to share some of their cherished memories.