Like a lot of you family is important to me. Having a loved one with dementia and Alzheimer’s it is especially important to me to be able to document memories and moments with them. I had been trying for awhile to write down comments and memories when they came up, but the conversations were never fluid. I also, often didn’t have paper or a pen with me when they would start talking about things.
If I left to go get pen and paper my loved one was often distracted and stopped talking about the memory and went to something else or got quiet all together. I had been looking for something to help me on my quest to document these important moment. I needed something that didn’t interrupt or distract them like I did writing or typing. I was recently introduced to Remento which is a family storytelling platform.
This platform seeks to change the way we document the lives and experiences of our loved ones. The app allows the user to create a way of documenting memories, stories and events in a whole new way. I like that the app gives prompts and templates, but also, allows one to start from scratch and create one’s own ideas. Remento helps to facilitate the conversations about family memories and makes it less intimidating. They don’t sell or monetize your data or content and they can’t see what you create as it is all stored privately on your device.
I had seen pictures of old boats in the photo album and they no markings or writing were given to identify them and no idea of the story behind them. Using the Remento photo prompts I showed the pictures and asked about them. I was then able to record a story about the boats and find out that this was the family’s first fishing boats. I can now share these with other family members. These photos took on a new meaning and now the story is preserved for generations to come.
Being able to have these conversations and capture these stories that might otherwise be lost is priceless. The best part about Remento is you can download the app for free! The app is only available on ios right now, but the android version is coming soon. I am so thankful for the Remento app and the ability store these memories forever and to download and share them with my family.
Tips on working with a family member that has dementia or Alzheimer’s
Working with a family member that has dementia or Alzheimer’s can be difficult. Some of the pointers I found helpful using the app was:
1. Exploring recent events (weeks, months, years) are often harder to recall than past ones (decades ago). Remembering teenage years and early 20s was easier for my family member. I choose questions from this time period and asked about moments or pup culture (music, movies, books) from this period to ease my loved one into their memories.
2. Since this is my family member, I know a little bit about their life which will helped me when asking questions. The more specific my questions were, the easier it was for them to answer. When I was choosing the questions I’d like to ask, I edited them directly in the app with details. For example, a pre-written question might be generic like “Tell me about your brothers.” I edited that to: “Did you and your brother Norb ever fight when you were young?” And then followed that up with more detailed questions to help them unlock the story.
3. Photos and Music are very powerful triggers for memory recollection. Knowing what years/decades my loved one was a a teen, I was able to look up songs that were popular then and play them. I asked them what their favorite songs was, played them, and then asked what memories and people come to mind – “When did you first hear this? Why is it special to you? What were you doing when you first heard it?”
4. I found spreading spread the conversations out over time and asking 4- 5 questions in a sitting to keep it from feeling overwhelming.
Making the dialogue as natural as possible and not forcing it is important. I felt like using the app didn’t distract my loved one from speaking with me and sharing. They also, liked seeing what I was documenting, especially when I would have a family picture of my phone.
Everyone’s situation is different, but Remento has really assisted me in documenting important memories with my aging loved one. Remento isn’t just for talking to elderly or in my situation a loved one with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Remento can be used to document your own memories and stories as well. I can’t say enough positive things about Remento.