FlowersMaking A "This Is Your Life" Book

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While the person with dementia is being cared for within the family, the family is able to make up for many of his or her intellectual losses by taking over tasks the person can no longer manage. At the same time, they can remember what the person was like before he or she developed dementia.

However, when the person with dementia requires care outside the family a practical way to help maintain their identity and individuality is to use a "This is Your Life" book. This type of book is also useful for reminiscing and conversation regardless of where the person with dementia lives.

Care Outside The Family

When the family reach the point of needing help, they will probably look to a nursing home (or other organisation) which can provide day care, short term or permanent residential care. The staff of the organisation can take over much of the practical day-to-day care the family has been giving, but they have two big disadvantages. The first is that the person does not know them. This can only be overcome by the passage of time. The second, and bigger disadvantage is that the staff do not know the person.

The Need For Information

Staff members who are caring for a demented person must have information about the person in order to meet his or her needs. Information can be obtained from the doctor and from relatives, but neither you or the doctor can be on hand whenever necessary. A book about the person with dementia provides this information at all times and alerts staff to the positive aspects of the person they are caring for. It also reminds them of the person inside "the patient".

A "This is Your Life" Book

Following are some suggestions for how to prepare such a book:

Imagine that the person with dementia was to be the guest of honour on the television show, "This is Your Life", and that you need to provide the producers with information about his or her life. This is the sort of information that carers outside the family need, and only the family can provide. It includes information about any day-to-day preferences and "quirks" particular to the person with dementia.

In order to be useful to the TV producer or carers, the information needs to be presented clearly and briefly. There are two ways of organising the information that are particularly helpful.

1. As an information sheet, preferably typed.

2. As a "This is Your Life" photograph album, with all the photos clearly labelled, arranged in chronological order, include as many photos as possible from the early part of the person's life. (The earlier the memory, the later it seems to be forgotten.)

The information sheet is important because all staff can refer to it quickly. It helps them to make sense of what the person is saying, and to find activities that give him or her pleasure. It does not take long to complete, and should always go with the person when they need to be cared for by people who don't know them.

Ideally, the information sheet and album should both be used. The album is potentially used as a tool for reminiscing and enabling the person with dementia to relive old memories which they may still recall.

This is the sort of information that is helpful

Name preferred:
Date of Birth:
Where born:
Original Language:
Time lived in Australia:
Language Spoken Now:
Names of parents (and dates of death, if applicable)
Names of brothers and sisters in order of age: ( and dates of death, if applicable)
Educational Background:
Occupational History:
Name of Spouse: (and date of death, if applicable)
Date and place of marriage:
Places lived in:
Names of children (in age order), their spouses and children (i.e. grandchildren)
War Service (where and when):
Names of special friends:
Hobbies and interests:
Skills in the past:
Skills in the present:
Favourite music:
Favourite programmes - radio:
Favourite programmes- TV:
Favourite Activities:
Favourite foods:
Any other points of interest:

While there is nothing yet known that can restore the memory of a person with dementia, these suggestions may help families to ensure that the person's identity is not lost. Making others aware of the person's past; their likes and dislikes, can only help in ensuring that the best possible care is provided.

Author Unknown By Me


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