Dementia Caring and Bookform have partnered to provide online memoir writing as a therapy activity at their dementia program centres in RSLs, yacht and sailing clubs from August 2016.
Bookform technology enables families and their loved one with dementia to quickly and easily collate some of their life stories, experiences and knowledge into a print-ready digital book.
The Bookform website has online templates of questions to guide anyone through the process of documenting details on their life. With one click all the answers and photos are collated into a digital version of their book, including front cover, contents, chapters and sections. Another click downloads a PDF file to print at home or send to a professional printer to bind into a beautiful keepsake legacy book, to be enjoyed by families for many generations.
Specialised dementia carers will use a combination of music and visual stimulation to help dementia patients of all levels to recall life stories for their family member or themselves to write directly into the Bookform template.
Reminiscence Therapy is widely recognised as being beneficial for people with dementia and now is made even easier with the Bookform technology, developed in Australia and a first in the world. Even non-writers can create a print-ready digital book on their life in a few hours.
Reminiscence Therapy uses exercises involving the five senses to recall memories. We discover the world through our five senses; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Our sensory perception is primal and powerful and can be used to stimulate our thoughts and memories.
Look at a photograph. Start jotting down points about what you see; name the people, what are they doing, what is the occasion, what are they wearing. Use these points to start generating your memories of that time.
Listen to music relevant to a time or era you want to remember. Jot down bullet points as memories come back.
Smell some clothing of someone you want to remember, or their aftershave or perfume. Even sun lotion or cooking smells can help to trigger long forgotten memories.
Usually associated with food, but some smells can create a ‘taste’ in your throat as well. Eat some foods that you used to eat in your childhood, or cook a loved one’s favourite recipe.
Hold an ornament or trinket from a time you want to remember. Perhaps a cherished possession of someone you are trying to remember. Sit in their chair or put on their shoes. Close your eyes and concentrate on the feel of the item.
Combining senses will make the memory triggers even stronger. Look at a photo, listening to the right music, wearing their perfumed scarf, while sitting in their chair.
Dementia Caring www.dementiacaring.com.au provides specialised dementia and home care, with tailored programmes of activities in RSL and other community clubs. This ensures people with dementia are not isolated or excluded, but integrated into local communities through already familiar surroundings. These therapies and activities are designed to nurture and socialise people with dementia and help families stay together for longer in their own homes and ultimately improve quality of life.
Involving family in documenting a person’s life creates inter-generational communication and leads to a very special opportunity for family bonding. Plus, the added benefits of insight into immediate family history and information about ancestors and their movements around the world, before this valuable knowledge is lost forever.
Our memories are important, whether our life has been made up of life-shattering changes and dramas, or a quiet flow of comfort and happiness through the external changes in the world over many decades.
When you sit down to write a memoir you are writing history, your history, and recording precious details of a life before computers, digital devices and social networking, even before television if you are over 60. It is a record of life’s episodes that truly mattered, of family memories and details of times gone by that were so different to today.
Preserving what may seem like a ‘normal’, even uneventful, life to you will enchant your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If you’ve had a difficult life, your stories of insight, courage and overcoming the odds will be an inspiration to others. If you have lived through a major world event or catastrophe your memories of that time will be a far more accurate historic record than anything even the most distinguished historian could write in times to come.
Maybe you were not born in Australia, but emigrated as a child. Your memories of your parents and the country and culture they came from are important to pass on. Read Benjamin Law’s popular memoir The Family Law for inspiration from his hilarious tales of growing up in an eccentric Chinese family relocated to Australia.
The Bookform templates are free to access for 30 days at www.bookform.com.au, to download your finished book you need to subscribe at $29 a month or $290 a year.