My mother, who was diagnosed with dementia, repeated stories all the time. Certain circumstances would lead to certain stories. At dinner, she would tell us the same two stories about her childhood: one about her uncle’s dogs, Jacques and Babette, who used to beg at the dinner table when she was growing up, and the other about saying grace at Miss Hall’s where she went to high school. Each night at dinner with us, she would turn to my sons and ask them if they knew how to say grace and then be shocked when they could recite Miss Hall’s grace verbatim. She loved these stories. She laughed each time she told them. But for us, the stories were tiring and didn’t bring the same joy.
What if we could package up those oft-repeated stories to play back for them;
What if we could keep those stories accessible to our loved one so that they could listen to the stories again and again (without us having to be on the receiving end)? Those memories are precious to them: they are grounding and familiar; they capture the experiences of a lifetime; they are emotion-laden and comforting. In fact, just as we need hearing aids and eyeglasses to offset the loss of those faculties, we should use those memories to create a crutch to offset the challenges caused by memory loss.
I started Audivi (Latin for, ‘I heard’) to do just that. Audivi lets families and individuals save memories in an online memory bank and play them back with the click of a button. As you can see from this video clip, my mother didn’t just enjoy telling her stories again and again, she enjoyed hearing them as well with her Audivi memory bank. A memory bank offers a playground for a person with dementia (since it immerses them in the stories they love) and a tool for caregivers (since it offsets challenges caused by short-term memory loss). Reminiscence therapy has long been shown to have therapeutic benefits for individuals with dementia, including reducing stress, boosting confidence and mood, and increasing a sense of pride and accomplishment. Memory banks enable individuals to reap these benefits 24/7, injecting the comfort and joy of childhood memories into any moment.
FIVE VALUABLE USES OF A MEMORY BANK.
Stop putting yourself on the receiving end of oft-repeated memories. Start a memory bank and turn the memories into a tool to:
- Boost confidence and spark joy. My mother was delighted by her memory bank. As she watched it, she would laugh aloud, finish her own sentences, act out the scenes, and nod in agreement with the stories. Unlike with general conversations, she knew where these stories were going which boosted her confidence and brought her joy.
- Offer a self-directed activity: Audivi memory banks offer the ‘Goldilocks’ level of brain stimulation for a person with dementia. My mother could no longer read a book (which is ‘too cold’) nor follow a movie (which is ‘too hot’), but Audivi’s combination of voice and photos kept her enraptured with the ‘just right’ level of brain stimulation.
- Redirect a stressful moment. A memory bank can help distract attention and reset the emotional circuitry for positivity. If you are waiting in an emergency room with your loved one or if they seem generally anxious, irritable, or confused, play the memory bank to initiate a trip down memory lane and refocus the mind.
- Reduce isolation and loneliness. Visitors and/or outsiders often don’t know what to say to a person with dementia which can result in isolation and loneliness. By playing a memory bank together, you can spark conversation and laughter with others, and bridge generational, ethnic and language divides.
- Welcome new caregivers. It can be hard to integrate new caregivers and effectively convey important history and context to them. Memory banks offer an immersive platform that makes it easy to remember and recall the stories and begin to establish connections between parties.
Memory banks are easy to create with Audivi.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, set the memory bank to public, private or shared, and start adding memories. You can prompt memories by asking a question (your own or using Audivi’s prompts) or asking about a photo. Audio-record the response, upload the photo, and the information instantly uploads to the memory bank and can be enjoyed anytime.
Don’t get frustrated by listening to the same stories, day in and day out. Instead, capture them with an Audivi memory bank and offer them back to your loved one with dementia. You’ll be delighted to see the comfort, connection, and amusement it can provide.