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Dementia activity: How to create a memory book

Everyone has a unique story to tell. When caring for someone with dementia creating and recording a person's life story is central to quality dementia care.

A story board or a mini sketch of a loved one's life is just one of the ways family members can provide nursing care staff with information to develop meaningful activities and conversations.

Family members often find it difficult to come up with things to say when they visit a loved one with dementia in an aged care home. Long silences can mean many visits are cut short. Recording a loved one's life on film, in a family album or in a memory book can also be a touching and memorable way of creating a lifelong legacy for your loved one.

Nursing staff who have a deeper understanding of a person's history, culture and relationships will be more likely to understand and manage a change in a person's behaviour or mood. It's also a nice activity to do with a loved one and other family members.

What do you need to create a life story? Start by collecting information about a person's:

  • previous occupations
  • domestic interests
  • family members
  • hobbies
  • habits
  • pets
  • personal accomplishments
  • past holidays
  • religious and cultural affiliations
  • school memories.

You can create a story board by pasting old photos or cut outs of magazines, coupons, old tickets and paraphernalia in a memory album or cork board. Remember to label pages with familiar names of family members, friends, places or events to prompt conversation. 

This video shows you how to make a memory book. 

1 comment

Lara Caughey wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago
Digital storytelling is also an avenue of recounting a person's life and is being used at an aged care service in Nundah called Zion Lutheran Home. Please read on: Digital storytelling Brisbane retirees have become techno savvy, sharing their life stories online and reminiscing through digital technology at Zion Lutheran Home, Nundah through Place Stories. The web-based initiative has been used by around 20 residents to bring their memories to life and empower them capturing their life achievements through text, video, audio and photographs. The interactive web-based technology enabled resident and sailor Don Thompson, who claimed fourth place at the Brisbane to Gladstone boat race in 1982, to show what he has achieved in his life and share this with others. “My family were very pleased [about my story being shared] and they appreciated it is not easy to sail a boat, especially a 10.6m catamaran,” he said. Don believed it was important “to share your story and inspire other people to live their dreams. It’s been great fun.” Zion Lutheran Home General Manager Maria Mulheran said digital stories have made a huge difference to lives of the residents involved. “It’s a way for us to connect, share their lives and celebrate,” she said. Maria said the technology allowed interesting stories to be told capturing the lives of some remarkable people. One example is Zion resident Jean Klier who worked in Papua New Guinea as a missionary teacher. Another, Darryl Gatley was the first trainer for Queensland Rugby League. Also, Elizabeth Evans Thomas was born in Shanghai, captured in a prison camp during the war and developed a love of reading. Maria said Place Stories unveiled the tales of people which needed to be told as a testament to their lives. Neal is passionate about his fledgling initiative which is a joint partnership between Zion Lutheran Home and Feral Arts. In 2003, Neal was honoured with the Australia Council’s Ros Bower Award for his contribution to the disability, health and community sectors. After completing a fellowship in London in 2008 focusing on reminiscent and oral history work Neal looked for an aged care service that was interested in creative ageing, and found Zion. Zion Lutheran Home Lifestyle Coordinator Neal Price received a $5,000 grant from the Australia Council for the Arts Community Partnerships to fund the digital storytelling project. Neal said the Feral Arts storytelling program has become a valuable community resource to share people’s aspirations, culture and life stories. Neal said aged care services using this resource will develop stronger connections to the wider community and within their own networks. “It is a tool to promote, educate and attract an online community and expand residents’ knowledge of new technology,” he said. “I have a deep respect for the residents and it’s a bit like archaeology when I explore residents’ photo albums as I am helping them tell their stories. As you dig deeper you find all sorts of connections to past events; some private and some public events of national significance.” For more information visit http://placestories.com/project/8139#!v=stories Visit www.lccqld.org.au

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