Tips for Creating Memory Books to Enable Conversation

/, care partner, communication, dementia, dementia. alzheimers/Tips for Creating Memory Books to Enable Conversation

Tips for Creating Memory Books to Enable Conversation

For people living with dementia, reading is a preserved skill. Therefore visual aids that include written information can be used as memory supports. Memory books can improve quality of life by:

  • Helping people remember important information
  • Making conversation easier
  • Reducing responsive (challenging) behaviors, such as exit seeking and repetitive questioning
  • Providing reassurance and comfort

A memory book is a simple story of the person’s life. The book can be made simply with a three ring binder with non-glare page protectors. Each page contains a single photograph or memento and one sentence describing it. Sentences are written in the first person and include the names of people and places shown in the photo.  The use of memory books with individuals living with dementia originated with Dr. Michelle Bourgeois.  

Memory books can be used to facilitate conversations during family visits. They are also a great way for care partners to get to know new individuals living in the care community.

Here are some simple guidelines to help you use a memory book in conversation.

  • Ask the person to have a conversation with you.
  • Guide the conversation by commenting on the photos and information in the memory book.
  • Redirect the conversation back to the topic when the person begins to ramble.
  • Reassure the person and help out when he or she gets stuck and can’t find a word.
  • Smile and act interested in whatever the person is talking about even if you aren’t sure what is being said.
  • Thank the person for talking with you.

There are a few common pitfalls you will want to avoid when using a memory book in conversation.

  • Do not quiz the person or ask a lot of specific questions.
  • Do not correct or contradict something that was stated as fact even if you know it’s wrong.

A memory book is a simple tool that can greatly improve quality of life for a person living with dementia. To learn more about making a memory book, watch this video.

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer Brush, MA, CCC/SLP is an award-winning Dementia Educator, author and consultant. Passionate about enriching the lives of people with dementia, Jennifer is on a mission to put the focus of care on the person’s preferences, interests and abilities. With her nearly three decades of industry experience, including leading countless live national and international trainings, facilitating ground-breaking research, and managing innovative person-centered projects for the Ohio Council for Cognitive Health, Jennifer flawlessly bridges the gap between care communities and the individuals they serve. Jennifer serves on the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Advisory Board for Montessori for Aging and Dementia and she is the only AMI Certified Trainer of Trainers for Montessori for Aging and Dementia in the US. She is also adjunct faculty at St. Nicholas Montessori College in Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Jennifer is the author of several nationally recognized books on dementia including the silver-medal winning Creative Connections in Dementia Care and I Care, the gold-medal winning work that also received a 5-star rating as a Reader Favorite. Jennifer is widely known for her innovative work in the Spaced Retrieval memory intervention, pioneering this area of study in speech-language pathology and publishing 2 books on the subject. Look for Jennifer’s new co-authored book about Person-Centered Care, to be published by Wiley in 2020.
Translate »