Twice a month, I help Alzheimer and Dementia men and women write down their memories. Nobody realizes how our private letters and diaries or journals can impact the future until you read books like, The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secretby Catherine Bailey or The Real George Washington (American Classic Series). People from the past can inspire the future to do great things or help us learn to be better. The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters by Andy Andrews shows how one person’s decisions can impact the future. Writing everything down for the future means you are leaving a legacy.
As the generations cycle, the details get fuzzy. Even if you and a relative are close, those conversations will eventually become forgotten. Your kids will forget, and their kids may not even think it important enough to remember what was so precious. However, a diary or journal with written details of the family member’s memories is a treasure. Sometimes, someone with Alzheimer or Dementia may need someone to write down what they dictate. They may also need to know where to start in writing it down. A lot of fiction writing techniques can be used to help them make their stories more interesting and complex. Use visual objects and ask lots of questions when helping someone write down their memories.
Notoriously, family members never agree on what really happened with a relative. Each one is sure their story is the correct version. In reality, we remember a memory from our own point of view, subjected by our particular prejudice. What fills in the blanks and silences the jury are the journals you write and leave behind. Stories like Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl continues to encourage people. Your story can also teach and encourage another generation. The experiences of your life and the wisdom learned from it doesn’t have to die with you. For the person suffering Dementia or Alzheimer, it can be frustrating to write down a memory, but if you let me help, I can encourage them to get it down on paper.
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