11.18.2005

Seniors at Roesner House
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I thought this would be interesting since Roesner House is very local and something friends and family are involved in helping, such as my daughters' school class. You can see why we are rolling out all the memory picture puzzles, in addition to all the games and tests. Don't forget the quick memory test we offer!


Seniors given memory jog at Roesner House
By Joan Aragone, CORRESPONDENT, San Mateo County Times


REMEMBER WHEN keeping a scrapbook meant going to the dime store, buying a photo album or other book with blank pages, and saving dance invitations, photos, birthday cards, menus, ticket stubs and other stuff?

You used sticky white paste or bottles of glue and decorated the pages with colored paper, ribbon or your own drawings. When that book got full, you bought another and started all over again. Every kid I knew had a scrapbook, and years later, most of those now-adult kids can find their old creations in a trunk somewhere.

Well, for anyone who didn't know already, making scrapbooks has become an industry. It's called "scrapbooking," with guidelines, stores that sell special supplies, conferences, associations and magazines that keep "scrapbookers" up to date on trends.

Whichever way you do it, making scrapbooks and using memorabilia, mental health professionals have found, is an important way to stimulate memories of the past in brains affected by Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Who knew, when you were 10 years old, that photos of your neighborhood and the notes you passed in English class would serve to stimulate the aging brain?

For the families and friends of the approximately 4.5 million Americans — including 500,000 Californians older than 60 — diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder, such activities are vital.

Gradual loss of memory is a prime symptom of Alzheimer's, a progressive brain disease characterized in the early stages by loss of short-term memory. With time, increasingly greater areas of memory fade.

But facilities that serve Alzheimer's patients and families affected by the disease treat Alzheimer's with memory-jogging activities.

"People with Alzheimer's disease often don't initiate activities or conversation on their own. Making scrapbooks draws them out," said Daniel Kuhn, author of "Alzheimer's Early Stages: First Steps for Family, Friends and Caregivers," (Hunter House Publishers, 2003).

In a program called "Past and Presence" at Peninsula Volunteers' Roesner House Adult Day Care Center in Menlo Park, Alzheimer's patients make photo collages.

Working in groups with facilitators over an eight-week period, patients plan their individual collage, lay it out and add their own comments. The program has been in operation for three years.

"It's been very successful," said Barbara Kalt, director of Roesner House. "Families provide old and some new photos, we take new photos, and the patient makes a collage. Some have severe memory loss, and the photos spark good memories.

"The collage is a wonderful thing for families to have. We also encourage family members to bring out the photo album and to do scrapbooking activities at home."

More than seven out of 10 people with Alzheimer's disease live at home, where family and friends provide almost 75 percent of their care, according to the Alzheimer's
Association. With access to photos, letters and other memorabilia, families can tackle scrapbooking at home. And, experts say, everybody benefits.
"Scrapbooking stimulates impaired memories. The photos and clippings serve as prompts for early memories and a chance to talk about the past. It's a time for both parties to learn," Kuhn said.

The activity is done together by patient and family members or friends.

"It's an opportunity for interaction and conversation. It also helps other generations understand the Alzheimer's patient, as it involves the children and the grandkids," he said. "And it can be ongoing, something that can last for day, weeks or years."

A new program that offers instructions on making a scrapbook and a free scrapbooking kit to families of Alzheimer's patients is available after registration on http://www.memoriestotreasure.com. The program is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies Esai Inc. and Pfizer Inc, with the National Alliance for Caregiving, and Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Magazine.



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