Memories can be preserved in many ways, from scrapbooks to recorded interviews. Here's help documenting your loved one's life story.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Life is like a tapestry, woven from memories of people and events. Your unique tapestry reminds you of who you are, where you've been and what you've done.

Sadly, Alzheimer's disease gradually takes these memories. If you're caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's, you can help him or her cope with the onset of memory loss by creating a tangible bank of memories.

Memories can be preserved in many ways. You can:

  • Display or keep an electronic folder with photos from your loved one's life, including photos of family members
  • Write down descriptions of important events in your loved one's life
  • Create a scrapbook or special box with photos, newspaper clippings, letters, postcards, greeting cards, sketches, poetry and musical verses
  • Make a video or audio recording of personal stories

Start by reminiscing with your loved one about his or her family history, traditions and celebrations. Often, childhood games, homes and pets are good opening topics — especially as Alzheimer's progresses and your loved one has trouble remembering recent events. You might also talk about favorite sports, books, music and hobbies, as well as cultural or historical events.

Depending on the status of your loved one's memory, you might also want to interview neighbors, friends and family members.

Other sources of information might include important papers or personal letters. Consider making copies of anything precious for safekeeping.

Once you create your loved one's memory bank, use it. Pull out photos and other items throughout the day to remind the person of special relationships, events and places.

By documenting your loved one's life story, you can affirm the positive things he or she has done and, possibly, can still do. Even after your loved one's memories fade, creating this kind of treasury shows that you value and respect his or her legacy — and can help remind you who your loved one was before Alzheimer's disease.

Oct. 15, 2014