Every season is anchored by our memories of routines, those events that happened again and again during specific times of the year. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter all have their own unique rhythms and holidays. The school year dictates schedules and routines that impact the community as a whole. For Christians, the church calendar holds sway over the Advent and Lenten seasons. This ordering of life begins when we are very young and continues as we advance in age. Its routines give our lives a framework by which to make plans and arrange our tasks and activities.
But if someone you care for suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, their ability to hold onto these routines might be hindered by the disease’s progression. The ability to sequence, or order their thoughts, can be severely impaired by dementia of any kind. This impairment can be seen in the inability to follow directions in a recipe or do sequential tasks like buttoning buttons or tying shoelaces.
There are some things you can do to help your loved one reestablish some of those memory pathways, even though the result is usually short-lived. Looking through old photographs, listening to favorite musical selections, and even cooking family recipes can trigger memories that might bring back memories while opening up a whole new world to you as you share these special moments together. Click here for more suggestions to open up more good times.
You might start by gathering and sharing family stories from Septembers long ago. Ask family members to help you collect memories from the end of summer, school starts, autumn activities and beyond. Build your arsenal so you can be ready in the seasons ahead to continue this exercise. I promise it will enrich your time together with those for whom you provide care.
Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about restoring seasonal memories.