Just as a family portrait, from the 1920s, may stir family members into identifying facial likenesses in newer generations, a memory scrapbook with old family photos could be of comfort to seniors suffering from dementia.

If some senior grandparents cannot remember the new, let them enjoy the past, and encourage them to link to newer events via well-thought out memory scrapbooks.  Glenn E. Smith, Ph.D., neuropsychologist at Mayo Clinic said, “By gathering memories, you can bring important events and experiences from your loved one's past into the present.”

A memory book or scrapbook can be used as a caregiving tool to help both the caregiver and dementia patient. Visual cues offer a link to a senior loved one’s past.  It also helps caregivers learn what is, and what has been important in a patient’s life.

Moreover, memory scrapbooks help a patient link names to pictures, track important timelines and events, list current routines and keep up with a doctor’s appointment. Why not include a section “what grandmother does not like?”

Some organizations, such as Alzheimer’s UK refers to a Memory Scrapbook as a Life Story Book.  Their Life Story Book is divided in chapters, which include patient’s childhood, working life, events and places, along with current chapters about what the patient likes to eat and drink.

What to include in a memory scrapbook? An effective memory scrapbook can be used to include the past, and help link a senior to the present. A memory book includes two primary sections:

Past Section includes the following:

- Easy-to-read bold timelines
- Senior biography written in short declarative sentences
- Family photos with names in large fonts placed below or on the side of photo
- Short descriptive sentences
- Birthday cards, and short description
- Old photos, and even graduation pictures
- Favorite family recipes and old newspaper clippings (enlarge the picture and fonts)

Present Section includes the following:

- Short and easy-to-read sentences describing daily schedules
- Day and evening routines
- Current list of favorite foods with photos or drawings
- List of current recipes to include photos of family member following step-by-step recipe preparation
- Page entry with names of current doctors and their photos
- Page with medical appointments
- Favorite events page: going to the park, to a museum, or going on an Audubon bird count
- Family members’ pictures next to a “before photo,” names included


The creation of a memory scrapbook could make for a rewarding family event. Include grandchildren and teens to help incorporate their drawings, “selfies” with their grandparents, and even short anecdotes written in their own handwriting.

The opportunity to engage younger generations at this juncture, where both old and young can learn about themselves and their family history, is one experience they will treasure for years to come, and share with their own family someday.

Helping a grandparent walk through a timeline of memories can become a captivating history lesson, and may offer younger generations a unique perspective of a senior loved one’ life history.

By: Ana P De Lane

Senior Helpers of Orlando Team

Photo ©PDelane





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