My mom has mild vascular dementia and is willing and able to do things to help her memory. I want to help her and I am starting this discussion for others where we can share what works and what doesn't.
First of all, different things work for different people.
Besides some of the little things I encourage and help her to do, I got her enrolled in a group session memory program where there are many different activities. It meets for two hours, once a week, and the activities are never the same, but I think the same people generally show up. Mom never liked going. She hardly ever remembered what they did. She never understood the point of the session. In our area, this is a well-regarded program that the doctors highly recommend. However, I don't think she got anything out of it and I was concerned that maybe I was just fooling myself that she was capable of doing activities that had any complexity, at all.
By chance, there was a class on improving one's memory. It was a set fee. It met for three weeks, two hours per week, included a book, and was a combination of instruction, of discussion of personal memory issues, and exercises. At the end of the three weeks, Mom remembered the names of all 14 people (included the two instructors), could give details on each person, remembered exercises, and generally seemed to get something out of it.
I kind of think I've realized why the second was helpful and the first wasn't. Here are some factors that I think are important for her about the second class:
* It was specific. Everything they did had a reason.
* She understood it. Everything they did was explained to them.
* She was with her peers. Everyone was open about their problems and fears regarding memory. It was a "safe place" to discuss any memory issue a person wanted to discuss.
* The mood was carefully set. The instructors actually told them ahead that they would try and fail with some memory techniques and to just try other techniques - also, to bring successes AND failures to class to discuss. So, the element of failure was introduced, right away, so that everyone would expect it and be less afraid of it.
Mom and I had her attend this second class by accident, not necessarily thinking it was different but just trying a different group so this was by accident that we found something that worked for her.
What kinds of things are some of you finding do and don't work and why?