Quite a few months ago, I blogged about an idea I had to create Mum's storyline to help her carers understand the lady she was before dementia took over her personality. I thought it was about time I wrote an update on what has happened since then.
As I mentioned in November the postcards were being well received, and have continued to be so. They have been commented on more than once by more than one carer. The favourites with the carers seem to be ones of Mum in her youth looking all glam'd up and of things she'd made - I sent one with a photo of an embroidery she did in her teenage years. The end result is that they are filling in gaps, and helping the carers learn more about who she was. This is good.
I've also made two more photo books for her. The one I did as a gift for her birthday is an album of photos of the first 5 years of my childhood, mostly pulled together out of a box of slides that Mum had (thankfully!) carefully annotated with dates, names and places. For her Christmas present I did a book full of photos of her wedding to my Dad, including both the official photos and the photos that friends and family had obviously taken.
I sent letters to quite a few of her friends asking for stories and memories of time spent with her, and received letters or emails from 3 or 4 of them, 2 of which were incredibly detailed - the one from a school friend of hers was incredible and fills in a lot of gaps. I didn't find a perfect tool, and after attempting to use Scrivener decided that it was too manual, and so have mostly been using evernote which seems to be working reasonably well. It's obviously only as good as the tags I use, but by having year related tags, as well as "chapter" related tags (more in a moment on this) I seem to be able to get to the pertinent bits of information as and when I need to.
After a lot of thinking, what I decided to do with Mum's storyline was to break it down into chapters, and work on a chapter at a time, trying to have one ready for each trip to see Mum. The chapters I've decided upon so far are:
- Houses - places where she lived
- School - her school life, I have her school reports so can get into quite a lot of detail if I wish to
- Work - she worked at one company for 20 years so this might be a short chapter
- Hobbies - her interests in music, craft, reading
- People - her family, her friends
- Holidays - I have lots of photographs from various trips, some might be a bit of guesswork, but some are annotated by Mum. She travelled around quite a lot so this might be quite a lot of work
- Church - a big part of her and my Dad's life involved the local parish church, so it seems right it has it's own chapter
A lot of these chapters are inter-related, but I don't see that as a problem, it all adds to the depth of the information that her carers can share with her.
So, I started with the houses chapter, and am taking that up to Mum at the weekend. Next up, probably schools.