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Transcript: "Making a Memory Book"

(My Book of Memories made together with: Geri, Lisa, Jesse & Melani my grand daughter & great-granddaugters)

Narrator: Another project you and your loved one can do together is make a memory book. Hattie Grossman is 93 years old and still energetic. She was a painter and only in the past couple of years has she had problems with her memory. Just last year she came to live with her granddaughter, Geri, and Geri's husband and three daughters, Hattie's great-grandchildren. This afternoon they're working on a project with University of Pittsburgh researcher, Michelle Bourgeois. So the first page we're going to have in here is called... It says, "My Book of Memories, made together with," and we'll put everyone's name here, "Your great-granddaughters." All right?

Grossman: Who's my great-granddaughter?

Bourgeois: These three, here. All right?

Grossman: (laughing) Do you realize that?

Great-granddaughter: Yes.

Grossman: That I am your great-grandmother?

Bourgeois: Looks like you're dressed up for a party or something there. (photo of Grossman.)

Grossman: Yeah. I used to dress a lot because I like clothes.

Bourgeois: I think the main purpose of the memory book is to enable family members to maintain conversation with a family member who may be having memory difficulties or who is just aging and is losing touch with very important family memories. (Grossman looks at photo.)

Geri: This is going in your book, Grandma. That's why we wanted it...

Grossman: This is gorgeous. This is the way he really looked. Not dressed up. This is the way he really looked.

Bourgeois: What did he do?

Grossman: He was a tailor. A merchant tailor. But he had great sensitivity.

Bourgeois: Uh-huh. Is this a good representation of her?

Grossman: (looks at photo.) Oh, this is very good. Can I have this?

Bourgeois: Um-hm. We're going to put this in your book. Why don't we put your parents' names in here?

Grossman: This is so real, Geri.

Geri: Yeah.

Bourgeois: A memory book is different from a scrapbook or a collection of photographs because the pictures are labeled. They have written names or sentences that describe what the picture is. (children creating memory book pages.) It's a group activity that family members of all ages can participate in, from young children through adults.

Grossman: Now, this is a nice picture of my husband and I, impromptu. In other words, not prepared. Oh, yes, a grand, grand couple. We were very happy together.

Bourgeois: We all have photo albums. We all have drawers full of pictures. This is simply a way of organizing them in a useful fashion for the individual to benefit the most from them.

Bourgeois: So, here's your book.

Grossman: Oh, this is my book?

Bourgeois: This is for you.

Grossman: I'm so grateful. This is so nice.

Bourgeois: This is to help you remember all these things in your life.

Grossman: Isn't that nice? How do you like this Diamond Lil, here?

Geri: That's you, Grandma. That's you.

Bourgeois: I think that the desire to converse is the key. If their memory losses are so frustrating that it's not worth it anymore to even try to converse then they won't. We need to help them find a way to be able to say it, and I think memory books, memory aids of this sort, are one way of doing that.

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