By Mary Underwood, Special Guest Columnist
For those diagnosed with dementia, memory loss can be difficult to face. Even in the beginning stages, losing memories can be frustrating and discouraging. At Artis Senior Living, we’re dedicated to helping people with dementia live the best they can every day. To do that, we encourage those with dementia or other forms of memory loss to participate in activities that challenge their brain and help improve memory. Here are a few memory reminders for dementia you can use with a loved one.
Staying active is key to maintaining physical health and is important for mental health, too. Studies have shown that exercise can improve memory and slow dementia in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment often progresses to dementia. For those in the later stages of dementia, functional exercises can help people recall movements used to do everyday activities, such as getting dressed.
Listen to Music
Music has long been recognized as a reliable cue for bringing up memories. Just like how music works as an excellent mnemonic device in everyday life, music can be used to recall memories for people with dementia. Play a song familiar to your loved one and they just may light up, sing along, or even recall a memory related to the music.
Look at Photos
Similar to how music can jog the memory, visual cues can help people with dementia recall faces, places, or moments. Looking through photos is a great way to stir up fond memories of family, celebrations, and holidays gone by. Depending on the stage of dementia your loved one is in, it’s also the perfect opportunity to talk about what’s happening in the pictures. Don’t pressure a loved one if they can’t remember what’s taking place in the photos. If they do recall some details, take the time to write down some information on the back for your family to cherish forever.
Make a Memory Box
Memory boxes are popular in the world of dementia care for good reason. Filled with photos, keepsakes, and other mementos, memory boxes help spark conversation with your loved one, inspire memory recall, and bring up good times from the past. Because a memory box is filled with different types of items, it also encourages those with dementia to use a variety of senses, including, sight and touch, to experience the world around them.
Smell Familiar Scents
Smell is one of the strongest senses associated with memory. Roses may remind your loved one of a special garden they had growing up, or perhaps their wedding day. Smell can bring up pleasant memories, and it’s a sense that can be strengthened the more we use it. A better sense of smell can make food more enjoyable, promoting overall health.