Memory Books Make Caregiving Easier

What’s a memory book? It’s a collection of photos or letters gathered together in an album, brag book or some kind of binder. It doesn’t have to be fancy or colorful. It does need to have content that has positive meaning for your loved one.

How can it help you as a family caregiver?

  • Flipping through a book can offer comfort if your loved one is troubled.
  • It can be a useful distraction if your loved one is restless or bored.
  • Photos can help your loved one connect to friends and strangers alike.
  • It can remind you of past, better times when you feel frustrated or annoyed.

Photo Book

For the elderly, their memories of the distant past can seem more distinct and sharper than the last month. This is natural. So, if you are making a photo bookphoto album display for a senior citizen mix and match the photos. If possible, include the oldest pictures you have. Then go to chronological order ending on the present time.
Some tips:

  • Caption the pictures. You can use masking tape right over the picture. Put the names of people in the picture and the year and event, if known.
  • Faces are cool. The elderly are more likely to recognize faces rather than names.
  • Use black and white or color pictures. The clearer pictures the better.

Letter and Prose Book

You don’t have to confine memory books to just pictures. The main purpose of a memory book is for your loved one to have something tangible. As a family caregiver, thinking outside of the box is a good skill to practice.

  • Photocopy favorite poems or short stories and include them in the book.
  • Have siblings, other family members and close friends write short letters to your loved one that they can read over and over. Use a larger size book tailor made for preserving important keepsakes like letters.
  • If your loved one likes crosswords or sudoku, clip some out and include them in the memory book. Instead of carrying around a memory book and a puzzle book, just carry one book.

Drawings and Mini Scrapbooks

kids crayon drawings

Pictures do say a thousand words. But those made from the heart say so much more. Here are fun ideas to involve everyone in the family.

  • Have the kids make drawings and art. Collect a few and put them into a book.
  • Older teens can make a collage of pictures and images.
  • Use the project to draw a family tree inside the book.
  • If your loved one is a traveler and collects postcards, put some into the book to encourage them to reminisce.
  • Use copies of favorite vintage cars, paintings, album covers or results from hobbies like knitted items or figurines. It can be anything that elicits good memories and feelings.

Digital Memory Book

In modern times, this type of book may be the easiest to make for you. However, keep in mind any limitations that your loved one may have. They may not be able to remember a series of steps to access the album on a tablet. Or they may lack the physical dexterity to use a smartphone. Try to make a book easy to find, use and reuse.

Take pictures of the pictures and art that you want to include. Use a program like Powerpoint (Windows) or Keynote (Mac) to build your album. After you’ve arranged the slides in the sequence you want them to be in, you can compile as a video or keep it in slide format.

You can create a specific photo album in Photos (Mac, IOS). Put photos and art within the album. Copy the album to iCloud. Download the album to a tablet or phone for your loved one’s use.

Conclusion

The memory book’s format is entirely up to you. Here are some ideas on the final product.

  • Take the art, documents and copies of pictures to your local printer. They can bind the pages together in a neat package just like a real book.
  • Go to a local Walgreens, Walmart or convenience store that offers Photo Services. Use their kiosk to create an album. Remember, you must have any photos, art and documents on a USB drive to faciliate transfer of files to the kiosk service. You can adjust the placement of text and other embellishments within the kiosk.
  • Print your pictures and art on your printer in black and white or color. Place each sheet inside a transparent sheet protect with holes. Insert the sheets into a 3-ring binder.
  • Use Apple’s IBook Author application to create a photo book. IBooks has many templates for you to use. You can download the finished book to your Mac or IOS device.
  • Purchase a small picture album. Print your picture and art. Slip them into the album sleeves for an instant memory book.

Give some thought to the size of the memory book. It can be small and portable or letter-sized like a full binder. For a first project to see how receptive your loved one would be to a memory book, I recommend a smaller size like a half sheet or a standard 4×6 photo album with a dozen pages.

In my experience, a memory book is welcomed. However, your loved one may be indifferent. Or they may need time to get used to the idea. Leave it at a location where they could find it. Perhaps curiosity will prevail and they will take a look at it. Or you can fashion it as a gift. Wrap it in a box and present it on their birthday or anniversary.

grandma with baby

You’re not limited to one book at a time. If they love it, make more. You can make themed books like a wedding anniversary book, a superhero book or a book for each grandchild and grandma/grandpa combination. Be creative!

There is one thing that applies to every book. Make sure that it has your loved one’s name on it like “John’s Memory Book” or “Grandma Jane’s Love Book.” It’s a sign of pride. As people age, they feel a loss of control. Knowing that something is theirs can give them a measure of control and dignity. It reminds them that they do have people who care for them and that their life is full.

 

Maria is a Hubspot-certified digital marketer and blogger. This self-confessed rat race refugee left a 20+ year technology career to take on the challenges of family caregiving. She published her first Kindle novel Conway 6-7. Lately, she has been dabbling in interactive fiction game development. She is a Certified Caregiving Advocate and lives near Chicago.

6 Comments

  1. Sondra M

    Reply

    Thank you for sharing these great tips about memory books.    I think that I will prepare an actual book rather than trying to store it on an electronic device.    The older we get, the more challenging and frustrating electronic devises can be.    What happens if it does not get charged?  If it is dropped?   Then there is the darned passwords.   

    I wish that I would have done something like this for my grandmother.    My Dad seems to like the calendar format for a memory book.   He likes to be able to hang it on the wall.   Yet, it is something that he can take down and flip through also.  After reading this post, you have given me the idea to make him a new, themed one.  Thanks! 

     

    • Maria

      Reply

      One thing you can try to do is laminate the calendar. They sell a clear film that comes in roll. Cover the calendar and it will last through a lot of flips. 

      The best thing about something physical is that no batteries or cords are required. Make it once and it’s always accessible, no subscription service required.

  2. Jordan Smith

    Reply

    I’m thrilled to find this post … I’ve been trying so hard to produce a caregiver template one from scratch for my elderly mom (who lives with me), and probably for some close to me in the neighborhood, too, since he’s disabled and told me worried he used to be at times. This post made it easy for me with the idea of what to do. I will share this post with my neighbor, and I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

    Thanks so VERY much.

    Jordan!

    • Maria

      Reply

      Jordan, so happy I could help and maybe provide some inspired creativity. Good luck with your project. 

  3. Pentrental

    Reply

    As someone whose memory is escaping more and more as times goes on, a memory book is more and more appealing. With so much technology out there and with digital photo books out there these days, it can be a memory of the past at the same time. I like that you mentioned letter and prose books as well. Prose and poetry are also becoming relics of the past. Do you have any recommendation on where I might find the best photo books? Thanks for a great reminder and post!

    • Maria

      Reply

      I’ve used photo books from Gaylord. Their quality is excellent with reasonable prices. I like the variety of books they have. They have them small and oversized. They are archival as well. The link below is a starter book with letter size sleeves and you can add pages to them as needed. The binding makes it look classy and elegant on display. 

      Pioneer Post Bound Memory Book

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