'Memory aids' is a broad term that includes everything used to enhance or elicit memory.
When it comes to dementia, memory aids come in two main forms:
- A tool designed to help people remember the basic things they need to recall on a day-to-day basis (e.g. an automated pill dispenser or specially adapted clock).
- An item or experience that helps to improve quality of life and ease emotional unrest through reminiscence.
Here, we'll talk a little bit more about the latter, and how they can help to unlock doors for people with dementia.
How dementia affects your loved one
People are affected by dementia in different ways. But, there are some similar traits that you might well recognise in your loved one.
In terms of memory, people with dementia often find that their short-term memory is affected more than their long-term memory. They're also more likely to be able to process feelings better than factual information.
This changes their perspective of the world and can lead to them feeling isolated.
Find out more about dementia, the SPECAL method and how to help your loved one manage their condition.
How memory aids improve quality of life for people with dementia
A well-chosen memory aid can engage your loved one's long-term memory and help transport them back to a cherished time in their life.
Reliving happy memories can improve their mood significantly and help them achieve a sense of belonging.
Reminding them of activities they used to enjoy could also help you find new ways to keep them mentally and physically active.
A memory aid could be almost anything: from photographs, to props and objects, or even a choice phrase which brings back memories. All that matters is that it's safe, appropriate and played a significant part in your loved one's past. It might take a few attempts before you find something that has the desired effect, but the rewards for both of you could be significant.
You can even turn the process into a shared activity for all the family. Speak to relatives about their memories of your loved one, and use those to create a new memory aid. Your loved one could even help you; say you find that they loved horse riding, you could make a photo book of horses together.
However you choose to approach it, creating a memory aid for your loved one is something you won't regret.
Memory aid ideas to try
Here are some of the things that can spark memory which you could try with your loved one:
- Photo album: Photos of family, friends, events and special places
- Playlist: Music from their youth, or from meaningful events
- Aromas: Flowers, essential oils or other scents associated with happy times
- Animals: Animals they've kept as pets or grown up with
- Places: Destinations from key points in their life
- Reminiscence 'rummage boxes': Memorabilia from a certain era or on a particular theme
People with dementia can enjoy a much-improved quality of life when care is adapted to them as an individual. Try out a memory aid and see how it can help your loved one reconnect with the world on an emotional level.
Find out how The Good Care Group can help provide the level of personalised care your loved one needs to maintain independence and dignity in their own home.