How to Preserve Family Memories

Preserving family memories for seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is important for several reasons: Memories can help bring much happiness and joy to that older adult and preserving those memories helps establish an important legacy for future generations.

Capturing and preserving memories can happen in a number of ways. It might entail turning on a favorite 1940s big band hit, spreading photos out on the coffee table, intentionally creating a list of questions to ask , and sitting down in the living room together to record the thoughts your loved one shares. Reminiscing might occur more spontaneously during a family gathering. If so, make sure you have a notepad or video camera handy.

To accommodate your family member’s cognitive ability level and make sharing memories in any situation a positive, meaningful experience, keep the following considerations in mind:

    •  Do involve other family members; don’t put the person 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 the memories your loved one shares; don’t monopolize the conversation.

    •  Do ask specific, personal questions; don’t interrogate.

    •  Do ask good questions and record the discussion; don’t expect a five-hour session.

    •  Do focus on general memories and emotions; don’t focus on exact facts and details.

The goal is to give your family member with dementia the opportunity to share cherished memories with the people he or she loves. You don’t need to record a precise journalistic account of the person’s life.

Activities to capture and preserve memories with your family member living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias should focus on what that person can and wants to remember. You can help to minimize frustration by paying attention to your loved one’s limitations and adapting opportunities for reminiscing accordingly.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias should strive to continue to do as much as they can for as long as possible. According to experts, the preferred environment for those with dementia is generally at home. Allow seniors to do as much as they can, but don’t expect them to do what they can’t. Simplify the task and give clear instructions, which may mean giving instructions one step at a time. Remember that exercise can help keep senior active longer.

No matter what the activity, bring fun and happiness to the endeavor. Laughter is great, so use plenty of it to stay engaged with a senior loved one.

For more information, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office at 


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