How to Help Those With Dementia Enjoy Life

How to Help Those With Dementia Enjoy LifeEven though people with dementia struggle with remembering events, places and people, there are ways you can help them recall some of their past joys. Triggering their memories in some way may help them feel reconnected and loved. Discover some of the tools available at your library for stirring reminiscences in your loved ones.

Picture Books

Librarian Jerilyn Hahn says, “Picture books aren’t just for kids! You can brighten your loved one’s day by sharing stories about relatable topics. Think about what interests them, then try some picture books on that subject. As you read the story, you can talk about the pictures, relating them to things in your own life or just admiring the beautiful and interesting artwork.”

Jerilyn has personal experience with a family member with dementia, and she has found many children’s books to be helpful. Here are a few of her favorites.


Many of those with dementia respond more positively to their favorite music than to other stimuli. According to Cheri Lucas with, “Music has been found to stimulate parts of the brain, and studies have demonstrated that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, including a study conducted at UC Irvine, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer’s patients improved when they listened to classical music.” [1]

The aforementioned study focused on classical music, but other music produces positive responses, too. Try playing music from a person’s youth or any music they love. Encourage them to sing along if they wish. The Alzheimer’s Association offers these additional tips.

  • Choose a source of music without commercials.
  • Turn off the TV and mute other sources of sound.
  • Use tranquil music to calm someone down and more upbeat tunes to boost their spirits.
  • Encourage movement (clapping, dancing) to add to the enjoyment.
  • You can check out music CDs at the library or stream music through Freegal or hoopla, digital music services available for free with your library card.

Memory Care Kits

photo of the contents of a memory care kitThe library is developing a series of Memory Care Kits that caregivers can check out for a month. “These kits are highly interactive and each follows a simple theme like trains or movies. They include a wide variety of activities and multi-sensory items designed to evoke memories of the past and help your family member recall pleasant life experiences,” says Abbey Rimel, DBRL community outreach manager.

The library plans to release new kits on a variety of topics throughout 2022. Availability is currently limited, but you can find them in the catalog and place a hold.

Other Ideas

You can also use everyday items and photos to stir up fond memories. Go through a family photo album with your loved one. Or show them items related to their favorite hobbies, career or interests and see if they respond. If you’re able to stimulate a conversation, you may pick up some interesting family history or learn something new.

Find additional resources at the library, on the library’s website and on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website. Bringing joy to someone with memory difficulties lets you reconnect to your loved one and nurtures joy in your own life, too.


1. Boost Memory and Learning With Music,” on