Alzheimer’s - The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing Memoirs

Alzheimer’s - The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing Memoirs
An initial response to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is fear and sadness over what will be lost. Gradually narratives, stories, anecdotes and family history will be erased. Since Alzheimer’s primarily afflicts an aging population, personal memories span a long period of time and mark the end of an era.

However, the best way to counteract the unwanted changes is to reject the disability! How can this be done? Have I gone mad to assert this fantasy when everyone knows that Alzheimer’s has a predictable course of memory loss?

In life it is always helpful to know one’s limitations and work on one’s capabilities to transcend any situation. If Alzheimer’s erases memory, then the patient must compensate for this memory loss. Writing things down relieves the burden of recall! Write to-do lists. Write post-it notes regarding appointments, activities, medications, etc.

So, if writing down detailed messages becomes an effective reminder, then let’s expand the virtue. Encourage the Alzheimer’s patient even if he is not an innate writer to record his memoirs.

Look at all the positive goals memoir writing will accomplish:
  • An important legacy for future generations.
  • Buried treasure—stories and anecdotes that will never be forgotten and can be re-read any time.
  • If an Alzheimer’s patient feels saddened by the loss of ability, he can readily review all his accomplishments in black and white!
  • Writing it down creates new neural pathways in the brain. Every activity that is stimulating alleviates symptoms and lessens the sting of the disease.
  • Writing gives the patient control, personal empowerment. No one wants to feel trivialized or helpless. This is an opportunity for an Alzheimer’s patient to take back some power.
  • The act of writing helps the patient to get rid of painful moments that he was not able to let go before. Confronting an old hurt, writing it down and reading it to family members is an excellent way to lay it to rest-finally.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Southampton College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIE 540AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit:

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