Your Memory Chip™ – EXERCISE by Lori La Bey
No matter when, where, or how you hear someone important to you has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, do yourself and them a favor. Go some place quiet where you can be alone with your thoughts. Bring some index cards or some paper and a pen with you.
and get your FREE Memory Chip™ Card emailed to you.
Now as you sit quietly, think of the most important thing you want the person with Alzheimer’s to remember when they think of you. Remember, just one thing. Keep it simple. Don’t rattle on. Short, sweet, and to the point is best for this exercise. Now write it down in your very best handwriting. Read it to yourself and then read it out loud. How does it feel? Is this what you want them to know? If not try again. You will know when it is correct. For me it was simple. “The most important thing I want MOM to know is – I LOVE HER.”
Next, I want you to think hard and answer the next question. “Things I need to focus one______, _______, _______.
What I found to be my most important things on this statement were my “to do list” items. After losing my Dad I realized these were not important at all. It was at this time, I found myself wishing I had more quality time with him, just doing things. Just being with him. Yes, I still needed to: do laundry, go grocery shopping, and medications… but I also found I was not engaged with him because I was “doing things.”
I let myself get frustrated when things weren’t the way I thought they should be. So I learned with my Mother to make sure my focus is on what matters. The true, basic, simple things, which make life wonderful. For me I focus on three things. No more. No less. They are: Is Mom, “SAFE, HAPPY, AND PAIN FREE.”
The last section is for you to list things you want to remember about the person. What are some of the best memories you have of, or with them? Write them down. These memories will make you smile and help reduce your fear of losing the person you knew before Alzheimer’s took hold of them. Don’t forget to add a favorite photo!
Once you have completed all three questions, I want you to promise yourself and them one thing. I want you to read out loud the following, “I promise to look at my Memory Chip™ and read it to myself before every contact be it in person, on the phone, by email, or video…”
You might ask why this is so important. There are a couple of reasons, but first, you must decide if you are going to share your statement with the person who has Alzheimer’s.
Some people are not comfortable stating their feelings to one another and that is fine, but I want you to know the possible advantage of doing so. Keep in mind you can share your statements on Your Memory Chip™ with a person in any stage of the Alzheimer’s. If you are lucky to have the disease diagnosed early, it can be an added benefit. You can use the first statement as a tool to help trigger their memory as later stages take hold. The second question will help you focus on what is truly important. You won’t be as likely to get distracted when things are not perfect, or as you thought they should be.
I am not saying this is a miracle card or tool. I am not saying the person will remember your name and engage you in conversation throughout the disease.
What I am saying, is schedules, consistencies, and patterns can be one of your most valuable tools as the disease progresses.
For example, if your statement is like mine, “Mom I love you, and you want you to be safe, happy, and pain-free” and if you choose to share your statement with them, in the same manner, tone, and timing of each visit or conversation; you are now setting a pattern. If you add eye contact and touch at the same time you’ve embedded your pattern into more of their senses. If you wear the same cologne, you have added another sensory trigger. Patterns and sensory recall are great tools. REMEMBER – Sensory Recall is a tool. It is your friend.
On the other hand, if you choose not to tell them what is most important to you, that is fine too. You can still do things to create a trigger pattern, by engaging the senses through touch, aroma, sight… May you read their favorite author, put on their favorite music, wear their favorite perfume or cologne, or dab them with their favorite fragrance. The options are endless but powerful.