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Writing About a Favorite Day
Up to four persons with mild Alzheimer’s
An important requirement of the new activities guidelines by the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is that residents with dementia
should be regularly involved in activities specifically aimed at promoting the
use of long-term memory.
Here is a way to stimulate your elders’ long-term memory by means of a
writing activity. Writing, according to researchers, is a valuable therapeutic
tool, which, like reminiscence, helps communication and promotes sense of
• Pens and paper.
Steps to follow:
Invite participants to close their eyes, think of one family day of which they
have very happy memories, and imagine reliving it. With the holidays
approaching, Thanksgiving or Christmas can be suggested.
Once they’ve all selected their special family day and have thought about it
for a while, ask them to start writing about it. For those who can’t get
started, you can suggest the following questions:
• Where did your family go? How did you reach that place?
• What did you enjoy doing with your family that day?
• Who was there? Parents, brothers/sisters, children, grandchildren?
• What was the weather like? What colors and sounds do you
• Why did you have a day out together: Was it for a special occasion,
event, or celebration?
• Why was that particular day out so special for you and your family?
• What else do you remember about that special day?
When everyone has finished, see if someone is willing to read their work
aloud and share their memories with the group.
Adaptation for persons with moderate Alzheimer’s:
Ask participants to think about words they associated with that event.
These can be colors, feelings, names of persons, names of flowers and so
on. Have them write down the words, and help them to create a short poem.
Adaptation for persons with severe Alzheimer’s (one to-one activity): Use
cut-out words and pictures that can be associated with a typical, happy
family day out.
Invite the elder to choose those he or she likes most by pointing at them.
Glue the chosen items on the cardboard of a picture frame (of appropriate
size and without glass). Next, with your hand over the resident’s hand, have
them write their name on the finished artwork. (Ask permission first.)
Tips: Residents with hand tremor will find it easier to write with large pens or
pencils and their sheet of paper placed on a non-skid mat.
Residents who can’t use their hands at all, or can’t see, can still enjoy
participating in the activity by telling their thoughts to a volunteer, or helper,
who will write them down.
Friends, relatives and volunteers can also help participate in this activity
with your elders. They can assist with writing, jogging memories, helping
with sentences and so on.
If they’re relatives, perhaps they participated in the family events and can
help the elder remember things.
Also, for those who don’t want to read their composition, the volunteers can
ask to read it for the elder.
After reading each one, allow time for the group to comment on the writing,
and perhaps compare it with some of their own fond memories.
This activity is sure to stimulate many fond memories of the elders’ past...
and a long life, well-lived!
In some cases, friends and relatives may well want to keep the elder’s
writings, as they may be very special to them ... or they can become a
valuable part of the elder’s ongoing scrapbook.