It can be fun and fulfilling to reminisce with friends during a class reunion or with family at a get-together. Somehow the memories seem to grow richer with time, and the stories come alive and get better with the telling.
For someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, those memories and stories become more important than ever. Old memories are usually more vivid and easier to recall than more recent ones.
In fact, this characteristic is typical of a dementia diagnosis. Alzheimer’s may cause impairments in short-term memory, however remote memory can be left relatively intact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This means someone can remember public and personal events from many decades ago but is unable to recall what happened earlier in the day. That’s why activities that help revive memories, especially in the early stages of dementia, can help keep that person engaged longer.
- Do involve other family members. Don’t put the person living with Alzheimer’s on the spot.
- Do look at photographs together. Don’t expect the person to recognize everything.
- Do share your own thoughts as they relate to memories. Don’t monopolize the conversation.
- Do ask specific, personal questions. Don’t interrogate.
- Do ask good questions. Don’t expect a five-hour session.
- Do focus on general memories and emotion. Don’t focus on exact facts and details.