Alzheimer's and memories: Use mementos as cues

Alzheimer's can rob your loved ones of precious memories. Create a memory box to help them remember the past.

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.

Early in the disease, individuals with Alzheimer's disease have difficulty making new memories, but memories from early in life are often relatively preserved. 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 manage the onset of memory loss by creating a tangible bank of memories. A memory box or bank might also help reduce feelings of depression, which can occur with dementia.

Store memories externally

Memories can be preserved in many ways. You can:

  • Keep an electronic or online folder with photos and mementos 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

Interview your loved one

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.

Sept. 06, 2017 See more In-depth