The Gift of Life Review
By Kimberley Luong, MSW intern from CSFU
As a MSW intern at Silverado, I wanted to show the importance of life review through sensory stimulations. Towards the end of life memories of a person’s legacy is an empowering tool for life review. By placing myself in the patients’ shoes, I wanted to create memory booklets that remind the individuals and their loved ones of who the individuals were prior to being diagnosed.
Through a series of questions, I interviewed the patients and their loved ones about the patients' personal hobbies, background, beliefs and interests. By the end of the interview, I felt like I truly knew the patients and developed a connection with each of them. I then created memory booklets filled with pictures and words that described each of the patients.
Patients and their families loved the memory booklets. One of my nonverbal patients, who has Alzheimer’s disease, gave me direct eye-contact and touched the pages as I read her booklet to her. Her family expressed that the memory booklet was beautiful how it reflected her life story and as a result of using it observed her becoming more alert since my visit.
I had two hospice patients who passed away after I completed the memory booklets for them. Before they passed away, I was able to read the memory booklets as a reminder of their life legacy. The daughter of the patient loved the booklet and plans to add it to the family heirloom for her to pass down to her son and grandchildren.
In addition to memory booklets, I create mixed CDs of familiar songs and DVDs with slideshows of familiar songs and images for our patients.
With a patient who has cognitive impairment and only speaks Spanish, I made a recording of soft melodic songs in her native language. She listened and began to sing along to the lyrics. Her face brightened and to my pleasant surprise, she blew kisses at me!
In another case, with a patient diagnosed with a memory impairment, the patient’s spouse shared with me that she plays the DVD slideshow for her husband as a tool to calm the patient and lower his anxiety.