Spark old memories in a loved one with dementia? Yes, you can. Recently, I made an emergency trip to see my dad, who has dementia. I feared he wouldn’t know me or remember anything.

Can you identify with that feeling? However, instead of fear, I experienced a week of opportunities to spark old memories in Dad. Here are three steps you can use to spark old memories in a loved one with dementia.

First, give a favorite present to spark memories in a loved one with dementia. For Father’s Day, I had sent Dad a can of Virginia peanuts with a label around the can that said, “Father’s Day Peanuts” in large print. Prior to my visit, Dad had told me on the phone at least four times that he never received it.

Imagine my surprise when Dad’s friend pulled the can of Virginia peanuts from Dad’s nightstand and about a third of it was gone. The friend said, “We eat a few each day after dinner.

After that, I would open the can of peanuts on every visit, and we would eat some. I would talk to Dad about the times we went together to the Williamsburg Virginia Peanut Shop to taste the different kinds of peanuts. I would always buy peanuts for Mom and Dad, especially the milk chocolate covered ones. I also talked about the years I sent him and Mom the large Santa tin of assorted Virginia peanuts for Christmas. Dad remembered, nodded, and smiled.

What favorite present can you give to your loved one with dementia to spark old memories?

Second, take clothing in a favorite color to spark old memories in a loved one with dementia. I took Dad a new royal blue and white long-sleeved shirt. In the past, I often told him how great he looked in royal blue, and he did. When I took the shirt out of the bag, he smiled. He took off the one he had on and put the new shirt on as fast as he could.

What clothing in a favorite color can you take to your loved one with dementia?

Third, use favorite foods to spark old memories in a loved one with dementia. As Dad and I walked to his physical therapy appointment in the senior care facility, I noticed two employees fixing A & W root beer floats. We had to stop for one. I reminded Dad about how he and Mom loved to go to the A & W drive-in for root beer floats and how Mom made them at home. Dad remembered, laughed, and enjoyed his root beer float.

I wish you could have been with me the day I took Dad a taco from his favorite Mexican take-out restaurant. He didn’t say a word until he had devoured that taco, and it was right after lunch! Mom and Dad loved to stop at that restaurant and pick up tacos. Dad laughed as we talked about his late-night runs to pick up tacos.

What favorite foods can you take to a loved one with dementia?

As I talked with Dad each visit, I felt grateful that I don’t need to remind God about his promise to us.

Psalm 105:8 says, “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations.”

Prayer: Dear God, thank you that you remember your covenant forever. Amen.

Copyright © by Yvonne Ortega VII.XXII.MMXVII

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