A family photo, special date or picture from a special holiday can all evoke strong emotions and lead to powerful reminiscing. For some this can become even more important if your own memory is starting to fade or you find yourself spending time away from those closest to you.
Creating a memory book can be a very useful tool if you care for a person who is going to be spending time being cared for by others, it can work as a touchstone to calm and connect to the person they are. They can also be incredibly useful for care staff to understand more about the individual in their care and even help to tailor activities around their interest and background.
Memory books are great for everyone and the activity of making them can be really fun and engaging too. The more you can put into them on a sensory level, not just images the more meaningful they can become. Here are some ideas of what to include;
- Special dates e.g. birthdays, wedding anniversary
- Special places you like to visit e.g. holidays, gardens, a particular park bench
- Family tree
- Momentos from a special trip or time of life
Why not try to include some different textures such as a pressed leaf of a favourite tree or flower, or a piece of soft tactile fabric. By making the book as multi sensory as possible you will be able to help your loved one connect with people and places which are memorable and important. Some people even create accompanying memory boxes with objects to go with images.
All you need is a ring binder and some plastic wallets or you could get a scrap-booking kit from a stationary shop.
We recently discovered forget me not book.com. A free to use online space for the purpose of collecting your memories, stories and photos to keep, share and to pass on. Memories are stored online and can be added to by selected friends and family at any time and then once you are happy you can choose to get the book published and printed into a physical book. Having your wider family and friends input into a memory book can really help enhance the stories you can collect.
We talked to Carla, a mental health nurse in a residential care home and she commented that memory books are a great tool that she has been successfully using to comfort residents. By storing memories, photos, stories and important dates in one book some comfort can be gained from seeing familiar faces and reliving old family stories or anecdotes.
Carla told us about one particular resident who would become disorientated, confused and aggressive on a daily basis so she decided, with the help of the family to make a book up with pictures of her children and grandchildren, where they live, where she was and the names of the people who care for her. By having the book nearby Carla was able to quickly address anxiety levels and comfort the resident. It also gave her an insight into the life the resident had lead and enabled them to have many interesting conversations about her life and even revealed how much the lady loved to sing, something that could then be included in her time at the care home!