Memory aids make a difference

Memory aids explained

If you’re wondering what a memory aid is, you’re not alone. We’ve been asked this question many, many times over the past year. I recently asked a person with early-stage dementia what came to mind for her when she heard the term “memory aid”. Her response was bang on. She said, “Something to help me remember the things I need to do…to help me remember the things I’m likely to forget”.

As glasses help people with vision impairments see, memory aids help people with memory loss remember. One of the most common types of memory aid is a small, personalized booklet or book that contains personal details (such as name, nicknames, birthday, address, phone numbers), captioned photos of family and friends, family history, hobbies, pets, memorable vacations, important life events, and health information. Other types of memory aid include cards that provide “what I need to do” information for activities of daily living and devices that provide medication reminders.

How memory aids help

Memory aids help people with dementia recall information that’s important and meaningful to them. Often people who use memory aid booklets or books will keep them close at all times so they can access details whenever and wherever they need them. Memory aids can help people with memory loss feel more independent and confident; they can help provide comfort and assistance during times of confusion.

Memory aids can also be very effective in improving communication between a person with dementia and their family, friends, care partners, and care professionals. Dr. Michelle Bourgeois, clinical researcher and author of Memory and communication aids for people with dementia (2013), has studied the use of memory aids extensively. Her research suggests that memory aids can increase a person’s ability to engage in meaningful conversation, decrease repetitive behaviours and questions, and improve a person’s overall quality of life.

Why digital memory aids are a game changer

Man using MemorySparx.

One of the major challenges with paper memory aid booklets or books is keeping them up to date and making sure that the format and content are appropriate for a person with dementia who is experiencing sensory decline.

Digital memory aids can help. An easy-to-update alternative to a paper memory booklet or book, a digital memory aid can offer a personalized experience that’s adaptable as the needs of a person with dementia change. MemorySparx, for example, allows people to easily add and update personal information, captioned photos, personal health history, medications, and more – all in one place.

According to the PEW Research Centre, older adults are increasingly adopting tablet and smartphone technology. At Emmetros, we believe that digital memory aids like MemorySparx are the way of the future, a way for tech-savvy people with dementia to live well, with confidence and independence.

Memory aidsJennifer Krul