THE IMPORTANCE OF MEMORY TRIGGERS
Do you sometimes smell a scent, hear a tune or see an object and find that you are immediately transported back to a particular place or event in your childhood or teens?
When we had young children visiting recently I was looking into my box of old toys for some zoo animals that they could play with and noticed my well used metal Muffin the Mule puppet, with strings still attached This took me back to sometimes visiting family friends in the early 1950s who had a 12 inch black and white TV. With a friend I would sit spellbound,watching Muffin and his friends jerking around on top of a piano as Annette Mills played the music and sang. It may have been basic, but we enjoyed it!
For some of us, particularly those who are now developing dementia in one of its many forms,living in the present is increasingly difficult and memories of earlier years in the UK, in the decades during and after the Second World War, become evermore important.
This applies not only to older people living in the UK, but also those who emigrated from the UK with their parents just after WW2 or perhaps were war brides who may now live, in their 80s, in Canada,Australia or New Zealand. They may now be physically located in Toronto, Sydney or Auckland, but they often think of their life in Britain when they were young.
The biggest problem for friends, family members and carers of those suffering from dementia is often to know how to stimulate and engage them. Reducing the isolation of patients and stimulating their minds can not only improve their well-being, it hopefully also eases the stress on their carer(s) and loved ones.
There are a variety of memory trigger resources for our various senses now being created for use by and with older people living at home and in care homes, memory cafes, day care centres and other places offering support. From time to time in this column I will look at some of these resources and websites which may be of assistance,as well as reminiscing about those post war years.
A while ago it occurred to me that there are probably quite a lot of people using Twitter who have older friends and family with memory loss. Since it may be difficult for someone born in the 1970s or later to know how to chat about childhood or teenage years with someone who grew up in the 1930s – 60s, I send regular Tweets (@memorytriggers). Each Tweet suggests a topic of conversation, sometimes with a photo or video clip,to stimulate reminiscence by the older person. If you use Twitter you might like to try it.