Book group: The memory activity book

From the October/November 2018 issue of Dementia together magazine, readers tell us what they thought about a book of practical projects to help with memory loss and dementia.

The memory activity book

Written by an experienced occupational therapist, The memory activity book features over 70 activity ideas, specially selected for people experiencing memory loss or dementia.

Caroline Branney, who manages our Dementia Knowledge Centre, says, ‘This attractive coffee-table paperback is delightful in its layout, illustrations and photography alone.

‘Introduced by facts about memory and dementia, this book encourages you to pick and choose activities that match your interests and capabilities, with step-by-step instructions that can be shared with others.’

'There’s a lot there, more than you would have time to do!’ says Margaret.

Margaret Butler in London agrees, ‘I’m not much of a reader, but this has many useful ideas. There’s a lot there, more than you would have time to do!’

Can do

Caroline is impressed by the book’s affirming approach.

‘I like the focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot do,’ she says, ‘while the author also encourages you to not discount activities that could involve a slight risk.

‘Maintaining a variety of interests helps you to reduce social isolation and remain physically active, and could help to avoid depression. The book encourages us to keep a balance between self-care, productivity and leisure that suits our own personal preferences.’

Maggie Cheshire, who works with older adults living with dementia in Bedfordshire, was also struck by the rounded nature of activities suggested in the book.

She says, ‘Although the title of the book focuses on memory, I like the fact that the benefits for the whole person are addressed.

‘The book emphasises the importance of social contact, which could help to address increasing concerns about loneliness in residential settings.

‘Many of the suggestions are suitable for all ages, giving the opportunity for intergenerational contact and family participation.’

'It is full of ideas that can be adapted to suit individual capabilities,' says Karen.

Karen Lilley in Essex says, ‘I think this is a brilliant book. I work in a care home with people who have dementia and l would recommend every care home to have one. It is full of ideas that can be adapted to suit individual capabilities.

‘I used it in a one-to-one session and the resident loved looking at the large, colourful pictures, which also triggered some good reminiscence conversation.’

At a glance

Maggie appreciated how ideas were presented in the book, particularly the clarity about each activity’s benefits.

‘There are lots of great ideas for activities and occupations, but what I love best is the “At a glance” and “How it helps” boxes that go with each.’

Caroline thinks the ideas would be inspiring for many readers.

‘The “Out and about” chapters are a reminder that simply being outdoors can lift your spirits and make you feel good about yourself. Here, there is a range of lovely ideas from going birdwatching to hanging wind chimes in a sensory garden, each with clear bullet points of explanation.

‘Looking through this book may inspire you to try something new or creative that you haven’t considered before,' says Caroline.

‘The puzzles and games and arts and crafts sections could be useful for anyone running an activities group, as well as for use at home. The puzzles go beyond number and word games to include sensory puzzles and how to make your own jigsaws.

‘Looking through this book may inspire you to try something new or creative that you haven’t considered before. Many activities will already be hobbies or old favourites that can be revived alongside learning new skills.

‘People often neglect the simpler things in life, including activities we enjoyed as children or with our children. I am confident there will be ideas for things to do here that you and your family or friends can enjoy together.’

‘I think I will be referring to this book a lot,' says Maggie.

Maggie says, ‘I think I will be referring to this book a lot and using it to encourage enjoyment of the moment for clients as well as their families and carers.’

Another carer in London says, ‘The memory activity book is very useful and informative. I have already started putting some ideas into practice!’

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