A Caregiver’s Guide to Sharing Lasting Memories

Meaningful Memory Maker on Dementia MapSubmitted by Lori K. Yauch
Meaningful Memory Maker

“Gather moments while you may. Collect the dreams you dream today. Remember, will you remember the times of your life?” (Roger Nichols, Bill Lane 1975)

This musical question is often on the minds of caregivers when they attempt interactions with their loved ones experiencing changes in communication related to dementing conditions.

Fortunately, precious memories sit in long-term memory and last the longest, which allows us to connect through reminiscence. 

Courtesy Lori K. Yauch

The most popular form is music, as noted in a recent Dementia Map blog post and in the literature. (1, 2)

Other avenues include photos. Photos are an excellent way to start a conversation. As a communication partner, you may begin with phrases like:

  • “That’s your mom and dad when they were first married.”
  • “That’s you and me on my 18th birthday!” 
  • “We went to the beach, and you taught me to swim!”

These conversation starters can promote minutes or hours of interaction and connection for you and those you care for. It requires little effort on our part as communication partners.

It begins with a story, a song, or photographs and can provide moments of great joy.

However, finding the perfect or favorite picture(s) of memorable adventures that trigger these moments may be difficult.

We may comb through boxes, envelopes, and countless albums and find some treasures but miss others.

A Caregiver’s Guide to Sharing Lasting Memories: The Background

Courtesy Lori K. Yauch

My family and I experienced this dilemma in preparation for my mother’s memorial service. My sister was gathering photographs from various photo albums. By the time she got to the 1980s, she believed she was almost done until she realized she had 40 years to go! 

Sometime later, when I reflected on this episode with my brother, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if our favorite photographs were all in one place and we could pull out just one book to look at our family history?”

As a speech-language pathologist specializing in dementia care, I was no stranger to reminiscing. I have written about its effectiveness in conjunction with multi-media in my book Movies and Music: A Guide to Turning the Classic Movie Musical Into An Interactive Event and online.

It was and is my go-to activity to promote communication and engagement with my clients, who seem to be slipping further and further away from us as the disease progresses. Reminiscing carries no cognitive load. It is errorless. It allows people to share what they know in an environment of ease and comfort. 

However, not until that conversation in 2017, followed by an opportunity to collaborate with a friend and former colleague, did I consider writing about family history as a bridge between now and then.

The Bridge: The ABOUT Books and Meaningful Memory Maker

My friend, a retired occupational therapist, whose mother had been in and out of rehab, was losing communication skills and having difficulties expressing her needs, which was making the provision of care more difficult. To improve her care, my friend put together a notebook about her abilities, interests, and preferences. 

When she approached me regarding this project, I suggested we work together to turn this notebook into a perfect-bound book with personal stories to accompany photographs and preferences. Out of this collaboration came the ABOUT Books and Meaningful Memory Maker.

How The Book Comes Together 

Courtesy Lori K. Yauch

ABOUT… fills in every area of need, from safe transfer to assistance in dressing or grooming, food, clothing, and entertainment preferences to the best way to communicate, motivate, and provide opportunities for engagement.

Everyone working with a care receiver will have the tools they need to complete daily care more effectively. We also include photos and personal history to increase communication, build meaningful relationships, and promote independence.

When you visit, you will receive an invitation to an online engagement meeting. 

Following receipt of your invitation, gather 40 – 60 of your most beloved photographs together with a bit of history behind the image. We will walk you through digitizing your photos and the upload process and provide updates throughout all stages of sharing your story, from its initial draft(s) to its final publication.

What Fans Are Saying:

“(The ABOUT Book) made my mom’s journey a lot easier. To have the books to remind her of family and friends. She loved the book and carried it with her all the time.” Dot A., Caregiver

“Lori is amazing! I received my lovely book today! It is amazing. Lori sat with my mom and me while my mom was seeing the book for the first time. Seeing my mom’s reactions as she turned the pages was priceless! Thank you, Lori, for all your hard work and patience throughout the process. This book is truly a treasure!”  Holly H, Caregiver

The reaction to these books (praise of family members) and the anecdotal evidence that they were of value to my clients (allowing them to enter a pleasant, errorless conversation that sparks long-term memories and creates new ones) was gratifying. However, colleagues and other professionals inquire about the evidence for the use of reminiscence activities.

The Evidence Suggests

“Facilitated reminiscence is a social interactive activity designed to encourage the recall and discussion of pleasurable past experiences.’ It is recommended that ‘when using props, choose materials that appeal to a variety of senses and support the selected topic or theme. Props and materials not only provide contextual support, they also provide pleasurable aspects of reminiscence.’”( Harris, 2012)

The Next Chapter

Courtesy Lori K. Yauch

After completing a series of ABOUT Books, I realized I enjoyed storytelling, leading me to reflect again on the family conversation surrounding my mother’s memorial event.

(“Wouldn’t it be great if our favorite photographs were all in one place and we could pull out just one book to look at our family history?”)

From this question came The Personal History Books.

A PERSONAL HISTORY of LASTING MEMORIES is a book of photographs and stories that spans the life and growth of your family—a great keepsake of lasting memories.

Gathering Your Memories 

After selecting a maximum of one hundred of your most cherished images and a few stories, join us for an engagement meeting. Together, we will determine the basic layout of your story. You will have unlimited access to all stages of the publication process via email and phone contact.

Personal Reactions to A Personal History of Lasting Memories

“We love it. Lori did a fabulous job creating the Lasting Family memory book for my mom. You put so much time and effort into it. You did a fantastic job making such wonderful and happy memories for my mom and our family. You are so creative and talented. We thank you so much and are so glad we made a decision to have you create it.”  MaryAnn, Caregiver

“It’s not just the pictures; it’s the stories you tell with the pictures. You tell them very well. With every book, you perfect your art!” Jeff, Family Member

From The Pandemic and a Change in Finances: A New Way to Connect Across the Miles. 

As the pandemic loomed in 2020 and my brother’s birthday was approaching, he insisted on no gifts. (“Neither of us have the money to splurge on gifts – It’s COVID!”)

However, I love gift-giving. I had to get him something! So, I went through a collection of digital pictures and put them in a video. I paired it with a favorite song and presented the video to him.

He was emotionally moved, which was gratifying and prompted me to spread the gift to my oldest brother, cousin, and niece.

My sister was impressed and encouraged me to place the video on the website. The Lasting Memories Video Greeting was born, suitable for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, memorial events, or any memorable occasion.

Like the ABOUT and Personal History Books, your video greeting is just a click away. Choose 30- 60 of your favorite photos that highlight the occasion and a favorite piece of music. Then, allow two weeks for completion.

Thanks for the Lasting Memories

“Check out these personal video greetings. I ordered one for my son’s graduation, my anniversary, and Father’s Day. They are beautiful! Thanks, Lori Yauch!” Lisa C.

Thank you for the opportunity to share’s product catalog with you. We seek to make the journey through aging easier by helping you build a bridge between now and then. A bridge filled with joy, comfort, and a little fun along the way!

I hope you’ll join me again to look at Brain Builders, an online Cognitive Wellness Program.

Meaningful Memory Maker on Dementia MapSubmitted by Lori K. Yauch, M.A., CCC-SLP
Meaningful Memory Maker




Visit Meaningful Memory Maker on Dementia Map or on their website.

Read more great articles like this one on the Dementia Map Blog!

Share Dementia Map with Family and Friends!