Alzheimer’s Memory Book Enhances Sense of Self

Memory Books Offer Positive Results

Alzheimer’s Disease takes away a great deal of a person’s memory including those accomplishments and life experiences that made the person who he or she is. A person’s sense of worth is depleted when their memory fails them. You may have read my earlier post about how to put together a memory book for an Alzheimer’s patient. Here is a new study just released for a thesis by Margaret Jeanne Trela at Ohio State University that indicates a photo memory book for an Alzheimer’s patient can help preserve that patient’s sense of self.

You’ll find in the study:

  • How to structure sentences and phrases in the memory book.
  • How the memory book helped the patient: “The memory book helped the participant in this study to communicate more effectively. Therefore, it helped her, and others, to see that she is still the person that she always was, in spite of the disease.”

“The purpose of this study was to explore if a memory book focused on personal achievements would increase positive statements about self. It was hypothesized that positive statements would increase and the ability to communicate effectively with fewer errors would occur. This study revealed that, during treatment sessions with a memory book, positive and desired utterances increased dramatically.

“…The memory book allowed the participant to read the sentence on the page and to expand on what was written in a positive way.

“…The analysis also revealed significant reductions of Content Negative and Ambiguous utterances in the memory book condition.”

…there were anecdotal observations made to support the use of this type of memory book for enhancing self-identity utterances. The participant was observed by the researcher to smile and laugh often when looking through the memory book. At first she was apprehensive about the book, possibly worried that it would highlight her inadequacies. However, after giving her time to look through each page she appeared to be relieved and surprised about the contents and used the book to remember much more than was written there. The spouse enjoyed the book as well. He was eager to find out how much she remembered and was extremely pleased with her reaction to it. The participant sat with one of her adult daughters and adult sons at different times and looked through the memory book. She was observed talking about the individuals in the book and they conversed about her memories of the people and incidents that occurred.
This suggests the possibility of this type of memory book changing interactions between people with dementia and their family members.

You can read the thesis in its entirely here.

Using Memory Books to Enhance Sense of Self. A Senior Honors Thesis — Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for graduation with research distinction in Speech and Hearing Science in the undergraduate colleges of The Ohio State University by Margaret Jeanne Trela, The Ohio State University. December 2009.

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