Creating a memory book with your aging loved one can bring back treasured memories and offer an opportunity to reminisce about times past. Adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia may especially enjoy a memory book. This is because people with dementia often have difficulty with short-term memory, but can recall events and people from years ago. Looking through old photos and mementos and talking about favorite memories can be a comforting, enjoyable activity for the older adult as well as for his/her caregiver, friends, and family. It also offers a way for the younger generation to learn more about their family history.

To start a memory book project, you can gather photographs, postcards, letters, and other items that have a meaningful connection to the person. Involve your loved one as much as he or she is able to assemble and organize these mementos in a scrapbook, photo album, journal, or binder. The book can focus on a basic timeline and/or key events in the person’s life.

There is no right or wrong way to put the book together, so be as creative as you’d like. Some questions you can ask your loved one that might prompt memories include the following:

  • Where did you grow up and who was your best friend when you were a child?
  • What are your favorite holiday memories?
  • Did you have pets when you were younger?
  • What hobbies did you enjoy?
  • What do you remember about your parents? Siblings?
  • How did you meet your spouse and when did you get married?

You can ask about military service, family life, and memorable world events that made an impact on the person.  If your loved one’s ability to communicate is limited, you can ask family members and friends what they recall about key events involving him/her. Depending on the mementos that you have, you may also want to put them into a “memory box” that the person can look through whenever he/she wants. The connection to the past can be soothing to an aging person and promote a sense of pride and well-being. While a memory book may also spark memories that are painful, talking about these can help an aging person process the more difficult moments in life as well as the good times.