There are already over 850,000 people living with Dementia in the UK. Though this figure may rise in the future, the good news is that the approach to caring for these people has changed. Gone are the days when carers would try and ‘jolt’ them back into the present by asking question after question, as we now know it’s better to leave the person in in their memory banks, where they feel happy or proud.
It’s important for families to understand that a diagnosis doesn’t mean all is lost and that there are still plenty of things you can do to create happy memories with you loved one. Here are some ideas…
Look through photographs together
But don’t expect the person to remember everything. Instead of asking them for specific facts like “how old were you here?” opt for adding your own commentary, such as “look how young you look here”. Particular pictures may spark memories for your loved one, keep these safe for future revisits.
Tap into old favourites
It’s surprising how well a song or movie can spur memories. In fact, music has been shown to unlock different areas of a person’s brain which may mean that music is key when it comes to communicating with someone living with dementia. At Ashton Manor, we’re big fans of a sing-a-long, toe-tapping and even the occasional dance! Our Lifestyle Team puts together activities that allow everyone to get involved and have a good time.
Focus on memories and emotions
It will minimise frustration if you hone in on what your loved one can remember, not specific facts. The goal here is to help them share special memories, rather than recalling tiny details. Our senses play a huge role in memory, so focus your conversation on aspects that jog memories, ask questions like “did you enjoy going to the seaside when you were younger?” or bring them a bouquet of their favourite flowers as the scent might trigger something.
As people living with dementia are better able to recall memories from previous years rather than more recently, reminiscence fills the gap between the past and present by sharing life experiences and stories. Dementia can take away a person’s confidence, as those living with the condition often find themselves having things done for them. Reminiscence provides an opportunity for people to feel like they are giving something to someone else, rather than the one doing the listening. Talking about the past can also evoke happy feelings, which is wonderful for those struggling to adapt to life with dementia.
Create a memory box
We already create memory boxes at Ashton Manor and display them outside our residents’ rooms as a talking point. However, there’s nothing stopping you from making one with your loved one to keep at home.
Each trinket, memento and photograph tells a story, helping you preserve precious memories. It might be fun to record videos or audio of your family member when they are recounting stories to add to the box.
Your loved one can help you assemble the memory box as fun task to do together. Creating the memory box can become a memory.
A dementia diagnosis for yourself or a loved one can be a difficult pill to swallow, however it doesn’t mean your world is about to come crashing down. There are plenty of ways to manage life with the condition, the ideas we’ve mentioned here are just a few of the many options for creating happy memories.
Find out more by making an enquiry, and our friendly team can help you with any further questions.