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Helping Elderly Parents remember — an article on the Smart Living Network
August 22, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Helping Elderly Parents remember


My Mom is 86 and is in pretty good health and gets around well.  She lives with my brother and sister-in-law in a small town in Iowa.  She still cooks, bakes, and does a little laundry and house keeping to keep busy.   She doesn’t drive as much anymore because she was afraid that she would get lost.  We have noticed that she repeats herself often and it has been getting worse for the past year.  She can’t remember things that happened yesterday but can tell you in detail things about her childhood.

She often tells my brother that she never goes places and she doesn’t do many activities.  In reality she does lots of things and he takes her to visit her brother and sister often and they go for rides, etc.  

My wife’s mother past away about 10 years ago but in her last 3 or 4 years my wife spent a lot of time with her, taking her places, etc.  In order to keep her mind sharp and her memory working my wife would have her keep a journal every time they did an activity or go somewhere.  This served two purposes.  First is helped her mom to remember the good times she had and the things they did because she could read about them.  Secondly, by writing it down it forced a different place in the brain to store the memory.  It in essence reinforced the brain to help remember.  I don’t know if there is scientific evidence for this but it certainly worked for her.  She was able to recall more of the activities that she wrote down than the ones she didn’t write down.  The journal was a wonderful idea that my wife had.

We are in the process of using this same technique on my mom in Iowa.  I suggest that if you are experiencing the same type of behavior with your loved one give the journal a try.  You can also just have them write it on a calendar so they can recall it.  Good Luck!   Stay tuned for updates.  

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  • The journal idea is a great one, Beryl. I've done a little bit of research on memory, and it's amazing how it can play tricks on you, and completely fail you sometimes! In my research, I found out that if you don't think about something you did within a certain amount of time of doing it, you will never remember it. For example: if I took my wallet out of my purse and left it on the table, and didn't think about it even once afterwards, I would not remember doing it. Silly example, but it gets the point across - and it's no wonder we forget things all the time!

    Because of the fallibility of memory, I love the idea of journaling. That's a great way to not only remember what you've done, but it's also a good way to bond, I think.

    Great post! :)

  • Update on my Mom's memory. She has been keeping track of her outings via journal and my brother said she was amazed at all the things she did the past two weeks. Praise God.... it is working and my Mom enjoys reviewing the journal because she gets a chance to relive the activity.

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