Activity of the Week

Memory Books

Last updated:

April 23, 2012

Memory books provide an easy and touching way to remember loved ones. Less busy than a traditional photo or scrapbook, a memory book can bring comfort to those who have dementia or other memory impairment, can be used as a prayer book, or can simply be a way to remember those we love.

What you'll need:

  • A scrapbook, blank art book, or small photo album (the kind you can fit in your purse or bag)

  • Glue, scissors, tape, other ways to affix your photo or items to your pages

Why it's great:

  • Photos spark memories. They can comfort, encourage conversations, and soothe us when we're frazzled.

  • Someone with memory impairment can begin to forget how a loved one looks, and a photo (particularly one that includes the person with memory impairment) can help bridge that gap.

  • Creating a book, choosing a photo, and returning to this book again and again reinforces memories.

  • A memory book prompts you to ask questions (what people in the photos used to do together, trips they took, times they got in trouble) -- use it as a way to tap into old stories and memories.

  • It provides a visual way to share important events and connections with the new people in your life (care aides, neighbors, new friends). You can even include a photograph of your home, your favorite car, or a vacation destination that means a lot to you.

  • A memory book can be used in the evening as a prayer book, to remember loved ones far away.

  • It's portable and provides continuity. Even if your loved one changes homes often (lives with different adult children, travels, or moves to a care facility), he or she can take the book along.

How to do it:

  • Choose an album. You can make it out of a blank book, a scrapbook album, or a small photo flip-book.

  • Choose who you want in the memory book, then gather photos of them.

  • If you don't have a photo of someone you want to include, check with other relatives and look online.

  • Does your loved one want photos of people who have already died? That's OK; be sure to include them.

  • Discover what time of day your loved one enjoys leafing through the memory book. Is it a bedtime ritual? Is it something comforting when he or she is feeling agitated? Does your loved one like sharing it with new people?

  • Resist the urge to "fix" it once your loved one has put it together. Let this be his or her book -- not your art project.