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5 pleasant memory gifts for your beloved ones living with dementia

We have once heard it said that dementia is like a bookshelf, the oldest memories being those books at the bottom, while the most recent memories - books at the top shelves. Dementia (for example, with Alzheimer's disease) comes like a force, little by little shaking up this bookshelf, with books - the precious memories - surrendering and falling down. Some books are lost forever and there is currently no way to turn lost pages again, however, certain things can be done to explore the ‘metadata’ and factors like environment, sounds, tactile sensations, which were related to the now gone memories, may help to recall a certain pleasant sensation.

How to give memory gifts for your loved ones living with dementia during Christmas? Let’s find out together!

1. Christmas songs!

Did you know that music can bring back memories and, most importantly, emotions, which were experienced at a specific time? Christmas songs can bring your loved ones emotions from celebrations years ago - it might not bring back clear memories of those events, the scent of the gingerbread and the feeling of warm socks, however, it will mostly make them feel good and at ease, as they were years ago celebrating Christmas with the loved family and friends.

Give it a try! Check this Christmas song playlist from the 50s and 60s, and this Spotify playlist.

2. Celebrate photographs

These days, with photo editing applications freely available for any smartphone / tablet / computer, take some time and work on a memories album for your family member with dementia. Select, scan and edit the pictures by including the date, names of the people, the location, and prepare such a pleasant experience for your loved one living with dementia, which will also give some excitement for you and the rest of the family, too.

Looking for a free app / webpage to edit pictures online for free? We recommend canva.com.

3. Did someone say a movie?

As it is with some good old music, a movie from the times before dementia knocked on the doors, would likely result in positive emotions and peace of mind for the time. Talk to the family and friends and come up with a surprise movie suggestion for your loved one, bringing back some pieces of memories and mental wellbeing. Good movies can be remembered from years ago.

Take a look at this list of 35 Classic Christmas movies for holiday spirit. What is your choice? Share it along with this blog post and let us know!

4. Spread joy

Involve the loved one with dementia into the Christmas routine: from asking help to pack some presents, to step by step decorating the house together and getting ready for the New Years Eve. Try to remember if you were involved in any routine during the Christmas period years ago, and replicating it slowly would possibly bring joy and smiles. Let your loved one touch things as much as possible - from gifts paper to the Christmas tree and its decorations, from the fork at the table during the dinner, to lighting candles. Such tactile sensations are likely to bring back good emotions from the Christmas routine in the past and spread joy.

5. Transform your message into a letter

Did your loved one use to receive hand-written letters or use them as a means of communication? Then don’t send a text message, write a letter and hand it in! Is your loved one capable of writing a response? If so, ask for it in your letter and remind them about it during these holidays. As already mentioned, tactile sensations and the fact that letters used to be the way to communicate, will surely work as a pleasant memory gift during these holidays.

From playing a song to writing a letter and creating a photo album with basic picture edits - all can be wonderful memory gifts for your loved ones living with dementia during this Christmas. There is no way to find the now gone books from the bookshelf, however, with these 5 tips for people living with dementia and their families, you can do some good and gift pleasant memories to at least temporarily fill in the gaps on the shelves and stop dementia for a while from shaking it.

Stay safe, stay healthy and let the happiness come to your house. Merry Christmas!

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