I have been working on preparing a presentation I am giving on March 2 at the Abundant Living Conference at Camp Allen. The conference spans 3 days and is billed as “Explore aging as a spiritual journey-grow mentally, socially and creatively. Come, relax, enjoy… celebrate the years!” The setting is a beautiful one, deep in the Piney Woods. I have never been to Camp Allen. In fact, it’s been many years since I’ve been to any ‘camp’ at all so I’m looking forward to seeing what Camp Allen has to offer. There will be some fabulous speakers presenting to a few hundred seniors over the three days.
I will be presenting, along with Teri Miller, an Occupational Therapist with the Alzheimer’s Association here in Houston. Much of our presentation will cover the different ways of doing oral history or personal history projects but we will also be addressing working with people with memory loss.
While doing a personal history has so many wonderful benefits beyond leaving something behind for future generations, it has some heightened benefits for people that are suffering from memory loss. The primary
benefit is immediate, interacting with other family members while gathering and documenting the information. Having a project to do that focuses the memory loss sufferer’s attention to details on a daily basis is an exercise that helps sharpen thinking and memory clarity. You know how experts tell you to do exercises such as crossword puzzles? Reviewing photos, life stories, sorting through mementos, all help create context for the patient. It allows the patient to use long-term memory, short-term memory and verbal skills while interacting with the people he or she most prefers to be around, their family. It provides conversation that moves outside the usual discussion of the weather, health reports and other conversation fillers and allows connection on a much deeper level.