When I would go home and visit my mother who was dealing with progressive dementia, I would always start the visit with a memory from a past road trip we had shared. We shared a lot of road trips in my lifetime, so there was a wealth of material to pull from.
My Mother might not be able to tell you if she ate lunch two hours before, but she could recall every tiny detail of our travels together. Pleasant memories seem to stay in the mind when mundane day-to-day memories start to fade. With that realization, I also started providing music, old radio shows and candy and soda from her youth. These were all very easy to find on any search engine. There are several companies that ship vintage candies and sodas anywhere in the US.
That is when I started doing memory workshops for caregivers and their loved ones suffering from failing short-term memory. The ability to remember past events, triggered by visual or audible stimuli, gives the person a feeling of accomplishment and an anchor to reality which is often missing in their lives.
I developed a one-man show with this theme that I eventually want to tour to retirement communities and assisted care facilities and present it along with my workshop. But, if you have a loved one who is challenged in this way, here are some resources so that you can utilize the same elements I use in my workshops.
Vintage sodas and candy - www.candycarrollton.com/
Vintage sodas - www.orcabeverage.com/
Candy - broken down by decade starting pre-1920's - www.oldtimecandy.com
Old radio shows - Old Time Radio Catalogue - www.otrcat.com/
More radio shows for free - www.oldradioworld.com
Vintage post cards (search US Travel) - www.oldpostcards.com/
When deciding on which years to pull memories from, I try to focus on the ages from around 15 to 25 as a starting point. This encompasses the high school and college years, relatively happy and stress-free years for most people. Plus, my unscientific approach of talking to friends and family, revealed when asked about memories from the past, they generally recalled high school or college events.
So, until it is safe to perform for an audience again, I hope you will try some of these fun and effective triggers with your loved ones. But, be prepared to sit down and enjoy hours of happy memories.