Library offers memory kits for those with dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia that result in memory loss impact many in our community. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and more than 11 million provide unpaid care for people with dementia.
In June, all Heights Libraries branches will begin circulating memory kits to support community members living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and their caregivers.
Library staff developed the kits after attending a Dementia Friends training in fall 2020, hosted by the Benjamin Rose Institute, which described ways people and spaces can be made more welcoming to those with dementia.
“The library is always trying to find ways to assist various groups in our community,” said Adult Services Librarian Amia Wheatley. “After this training, we formed a task force to create these memory kits and programming for those living with dementia and their caregivers to use to help start conversations.”
Memory kits are interactive bundles of library materials, containing books, music, movies, and activities that center around a theme or a decade. The materials are designed to trigger fond memories, and help caregivers and those with dementia connect over fun and relaxing activities.
“I hope that the users of these kits will find enjoyment in using them, and that they will help stir up memories through the music, movies and activities we've selected,” said Wheatley.
Library staff also partnered with Amy Jenkins, supervisor of the Cleveland Heights Office on Aging, to develop the kits. The library will be donating six kits to the city’s Senior Center.
“With this partnership, driven by an initiative called Dementia-Friendly Cleveland Heights, our office hopes to expand our programming to include Cleveland Heights seniors with dementia and their caregivers,” Jenkins said. “Our vision would be to someday be able to host a support group at the center.”
“The kits that the library has compiled should serve as a wonderful vehicle for discussion, participation, stimulation, and fun! We look forward to sharing them with the community,” added Jenkins.
This summer, Heights Libraries is planning programs to educate community members about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The Cleveland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will present an online series on topics ranging from “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” on June 7, to “Effective Communication Strategies,” on July 26. All programs will be on Zoom, and will begin at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit https://heightslibrary.org/.
Isabelle Rew is the community engagement associate for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.