Memories are precious especially for people living with dementia who use past experiences to make sense of their present reality. A Life Story Book will enable you to validate their life. Part of being a person is having your self-worth acknowledged and to feel that you matter. A Life Story Book can also be used to distract attention if the person is feeling anxious or upset.

It couldn’t be easier to produce a Life Story Book. Just gather your loved one’s photos and documents and put them in chronological order in a scrapbook or photo album. It’s a great activity to do with them and I suggest you put simple descriptions on each page.

The power of an image to engage a person with dementia lies, not only in the visual aspect of the image, but also in the following:Untitled

  •    Showing positive emotions such as joy and happiness
  •   A strong sense of narrative that encourages story telling
  •   An element of humour that does not require sophisticated interpretation

You should avoid images that include anything that could be upsetting for someone with dementia such as people in an aggressive or distressed state, or showing people or animals at risk. These can lead to feelings of anxiety or distress that people with dementia may be unable to rationalise.

If you want to go the whole hog  there is a great on-line system that makes it easy and fun to take a treasure hunt through their memories and store them in a beautiful book that becomes a family heirloom. There are written prompts on every web page to conjure up the fashion, sport and news of that time in their life.

What a lovely birthday or Christmas present a life story book would make for an elderly relative!