When someone has been dianosed with early stage Alzheimer's Disease, it is important to capture as many details of his or her life stories as possible, as quickly as possible. It may not seem like the details matter, but they do and they will. In fact, it will be critical to delivering the best possible service and care.

Because retrogenesis is believed to occur, your loved one may be, essentially, traveling back in time and seeing himself or herself as 50 or 40 or 20 or 10 years old. If you can know more about his or her life at these different ages, it will make communication and understanding easier. For example, if you know that Mildred's horse was named "Slippers" whe she was ten, it would probably make more sense when she reacts when you say, "Do you want your slippers?" . Knowing Mildred's long-time love of horses or her love of Zane Grey books as a child, it makes it so much easier to plan meaningful activities that will best meet her needs.  Another example would be Jim who was always a hiker throughout his life. Now confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, it still would be thoughtful to ensure that Jim spent as much time outside as possible on trails or touching the outdoors (bring a tree branch inside, provide large rocks to touch, show pictures of trails he may have walked before).  Personalize daily life for this person. We all want things that are familiar and brings us comfort, right? Remember that food is a great source of comfort for someone with memory loss too. How can you work in ice cream, chocolate, or other favorite foods? It helps if you know this person's favorites...favorite foods, favorite book, favorite movie, favorite TV show, favorite things to do.

Another good reason to be reminiscing with someone who has been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's disease is because recalling, sharing, and even writing memories does stimulate the hippocampus region of the brain where memory is stored. Alternative treatments for Alzheimer's Disease would be spending time daily or weekly reminiscing and challenging the brain. The long-term memories typically remain intact....so this is something that someone with early-stage Alzheimer's Disease can do.

You may be looking for tools that could help in the writing of life stories for someone with dementia or memory loss. The Mayo Clinic is using the Life Story Journal with their early-stage Alzheimer's patients. Also, you may want to consider the MemoryBio Photo Album and Journal. Photos are a great way to bring back memories. It's wonderful when you as the family caregiver or professional caregiver can have the honor to ask these questions and take the time to write down the amazing adventures of this person's life. You may find that it lowers depression, increases life satisfaction, and promotes happiness. You might also think about using Story Cards (interesting questions for all ages to reminisce) or a Storyboard (display a few key pictures and memories on the board). Enjoy each other's company and each other's memories. The journey of life may still be an open book -- ready to be shared. Don't wait. These life stories should not be lost or forgotten. They could be critical to caregivers in providing the very best service and care. The more we know, the more we love.