We have all heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, yet we sometimes seem to forget how powerful the right picture can be for our loved ones who have dementia. Too often we are so focused on our present day life we forget that diseases such as Alzheimer’s benefit from “time travel” to places and memories locked deep into the past.
Sometimes the key to the treasure box can be as simple as an old photograph presented with auditory/visual and tactile cuing. Try holding the photo up at eye level and telling the individual who is in the photo, calling them by both name and relationship, pointing to each person. “This is your Mother, her name is Sally, and she is holding your hand. You are wearing a red dress”. Then place the photo in their hand. The reward is great when the broad smile appears and they begin to tell you the story. “We were going to church, it was Christmas and my Grandmother made that dress!” While the short term memory loss may interfere with the ability to recognize photos so today’s grandchildren, events from long ago can be recalled with crystal clarity, especially when we use techniques such as this to help find them.
And don’t forget about the positive effects of music in regards to bringing out the best of our best. Music has often been referred to as the universal language. When we present music that is specific to ones’s personal likes, and popular during their first three to four decades of life, there is a very high chance the music will be both enjoyed and stimulate positive memories.
Reminiscing about the things in life that have brought us joy is good for all of us, but it is especially good for those who suffer from various dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease. A visit with a warm memory helps to lower the blood pressure, improve circulation, and bring a sense of well being to the soul. So turn the radio on to that special station and sit back with the old photo album as often as possible, and get ready to have a good night’s rest filled with sweet dreams from memory lane!