People with memory problems can benefit greatly from creating a memory book, and many local Alzheimer's Association chapters recommend this. A memory book can benefit both the person with dementia and his or her caregivers.

1. The process is as important as the product. The creation of a memory book shouldn't be just a one-time event. Instead, the ideal situation is for the creation of the memory book to be an ongoing process where the person is asked questions over a period of time to stimulate their memory and to continually build a strong relationship with one or more caregivers. The process of capturing the memories, assembling pictures, and discussion is as important as any finished product--a beautiful memory book.

2. Pictures help a person with memory loss to remember....but this is not a quiz. It is wonderful to look through photo albums and reminisce together, but it's NOT time to quiz the person with memory loss to see who they remember and who they don't remember. Be patient and keep the questions more specific for your loved one. You don't need to start every sentence with... "Do you remember..." because the answer could be "no" a lot. Instead, ask more specific or yes or no questions. For example, instead of saying, "Do you remember your wedding day?" you could ask a few yes or no questions or more specific questions like... "Was it hot on your wedding day?" or "What did your wedding dress look like?" or "Did you go on a honeymoon? Where did you go?"

3. The more you know, the more you love. People with memory loss are sometimes difficult to care for, but a memory book helps the caregiver see this person with new eyes. They have led a rich and interesting life with people, times, and places to share. It's important to see them as a child, a youth, a worker, a parent, and a grandparent. There is always more caring and empathy when the whole person is understood. It can also help a caregiver understand behaviors that may occur with Alzheimer's--things sometimes tied to an event from the past or childhood.

4. Share what you learn in the memory book. The memory book will be an ongoing source for discussion as someone comes to visit whether in a private home or in a nursing home or assisted living setting. It works out well when there are pictures found to complement the memories and they are DISPLAYED as part of a loved one's care plan. It doesn't help anyone if these memories are hidden in a book in a drawer somewhere. Make it easy for caregivers to see and use the information gathered in daily conversation.


Beth Sanders is the author of the MemoryBio Photo Album & MemoryBio Journal--designed for building relationships and capturing memories through a generic photo album containing over 200 colorful pictures and 35 themes such as Hometown & Neighborhood, Travel & Vacations, Jobs & Careers, and many more. Answers and pictures are then compiled in the MemoryBio Journal. This tool won the 2009 Caregiver Friendly Award along with's other memory capturing products. See the "Shop" button at for more information.