LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

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What happens when a Memory Care professional crosses a scrapbook with a music and voice recorder, for those living with dementia? You are presented with a recordable scrapbook, or better yet, you get LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book.

A book that stimulates memory and cognition through reminiscing!

Have you ever heard a song, commercial, or any other audio cue that immediately took you back to another point in time? Music (and sound in general) is a powerful stimulus that can mentally transport us to a location or event that took place nearly a lifetime ago.

(For me, The Guess Who’s “Undun” takes me back to an Elementary School dance. Boys on one side of the room; girls on the other. You know the setting, don’t you?)

Medical Science

First, we should briefly explore why LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book works (not to mention how enjoyable it is to use!) To do so, let’s look at three noted doctors and their perspectives on sound – especially music.

Save Your Brain by Dr. Paul David Nussbaum

From Amazon

Dr. Paul Nussbaum

Clinical neuropsychologist and author of “Save Your Brain”

Dr. Nussbaum believes you can calm the “chaotic brain” and positively stimulate a person with dementia with a proactive approach to activities that have an emphasis on music. He presents concrete, actionable tips to help you improve these areas of well being:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Nutritional

This is a complete system for getting the brain in the best shape possible and keeping it there for life. Our brains can remain as strong and as sharp at seventy as they were by twenty by following Dr. Nussbaum’s 5 essential steps.

The Myth of Alzheimers by Peter J Whitehouse MD PhD

From Amazon

Dr. Peter Whitehouse

M.D. and Ph.D., and author of “The Myth of Alzheimers”

Dr. Whitehouse specializes in neurology with an interest in geriatrics and cognitive science, with a focus on dementia. He believes that guided reminiscing that uses creative imagination (using music) and photos can stimulate the regions of the brain most affected by dementia. The instinctive desire to tell our “story” helps to better engage with the “personhood” of the individual with dementia.

He is the founder of the University Alzheimer Center (now the University Memory and Aging Center) at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University where he has held professorships in the neurology, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, organizational behavior, bioethics, cognitive science, nursing, and history.

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

From Amazon

Dr. Oliver Sacks

Clinical Psychiatrist & Author of “Musicophilia”

Dr. Sacks believes music helps animate and organize, and brings a sense of identity. We are “tuned” for music and early memories are “engraved” by rhythms and repititions.

Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does—humans are a musical species.

These are the perspectives of just three professionals who understand the value music brings to our mental state. It is exciting to think that something as simple and enjoyable as music can play such an important role in our cognitive health.

LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

From Amazon

Now that we know why music and sound are such powerful cognitive stimuli, let’s look at how we can best take advantage of that known science – and have a very enjoyable time, too!

We are thrilled to be sharing LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book with our Memory Cafe community. As you’re about to see, it has many great applications for those operating and/or participating in Memory Cafes.

Organized enrichment activities are a central component of many of the over 1,000 Memory Cafes listed in Memory Cafe Directory.

The LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book is an outstanding aid for those with memory loss. It can be a wonderfully interactive tool for individuals at any stage.

What is Life Songs Recordable Memory Book?

Primarily, LifeSongs is a 12-page scrapbook, but in reality, it is much, much more. Generally, a scrapbook allows you to collect and share important mementos in a person’s life. Pictures and other memorabilia are glued to pages in a large book.

You think: OK… big deal. I know all about scrapbooks – I’ve been doing that for years!

LifeSongs takes the traditional scrapbook a huge step further by allowing you to record personalized audio for each page!

The Power of Audio

As we’ve already learned, audio is a powerful cognitive stimulus. Audio can be songs, your voice, a commercial, a recorded segment from sports history, a poem – anything that could be a connection to your loved one’s past. Combine that with the physical nature of a scrapbook – the tactile comfort a big book brings – and the audio piece makes LifeSongs a wonderfully unique experience. It makes it… well… “Sing!”

How Does It Work?

On the surface, it’s really quite simple:

  1. Create scrapbook pages
  2. Record appropriate audio for each page

That’s it.

But to really understand the power of the LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book, let’s dig a lot deeper into the the various components. You’re about the learn not only how it works, but the many ways you can design differing experiences for your loved one.

Welcome to LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

My first reaction when opening the box was the quality. LifeSongs is very well-made, with large, heavy, durable pages. The front and back covers are substantial and look like they would provide many years of carefree use.

Many of us kept scrapbooks as children, and to my recollection, it is the perfect size!

Get Started Easily

One very nice feature when you open the front cover is the generous tips for using your LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book. These tips continue inside the back cover as well. Some of the resources shared on these inside covers are:

  • Suggested page topics
  • The Benefits as an Alzheimer’s care tool
  • How to record
  • How to care for the LifeSongs system
  • Tips for creating pages
  • Battery management instructions
  • Additional creative uses

Here’s a quote taken from the welcome greeting inside the front cover. It says it all:

“When you take the time to create this memory book, you are, in issence, helping a person put the “me” back in memory.”

Solid Scrapbook Pages

LifeSongs Recordable Memory BookThe pages are made from very thick, solid, card-stock. As a child, I don’t remember my scrapbook having pages this solid. Looking back, it would have been nice to have this quality to prevent the much-thinner pages from getting torn from use.

With six pages to use double-sided, you get to enjoy 12 customizable Memory Pages!

All About Audio

This is where LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book stands out: Audio. Along the bottom of the back cover is the audio recording panel. It provides simple access to the controls for recording messages for each of the customized pages. LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

Notice the tab securing the battery at the far right. That of course is removed before use. Also, notice the 12 audio buttons along the top. Below, we’ll offer a tip to make those much more visible for your loved one’s comfort.

Like a Game of Chess

Chess is a very, very simple game to learn, but it is a game that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment by looking for ways to play it better. LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book is not much different. It is so easy to get started as a wonderfully positive cognitive booster for your loved one – and can be used for a lifetime of enjoyment.

What we’ll do now is dive much deeper in the many ways you can use it. Remember, it is easy to use, but it has so many different ways to deliver a wonderful experience.

Basis for Outstanding Memory Cafe Activity

Memory Cafe Directory

Find a Memory Cafe Near You

Naturally, we would first think of ways to use LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book in a Memory Cafe near you. We believe it could be the basis for a wonderfully immersive Memory Cafe activity – one that could span multiple, dare I say… 12 sessions.

Envision this: each Memory Cafe participant has their own LifeSongs book. Each time the Memory Cafe meets, participants bring a handful of photos, souvenirs, charms – any scrapbook-friendly memorabilia. In Session 1, the group builds Page 1. In Session 2: Page 2, and so on.

Not only does this provide a continually growing expectation of fun for the next Memory Cafe outing, it also allows families to explore 12 different parts of their loved one’s life together. Each page is a different area of that focus.

No, I didn’t forget about the audio component. My recommendation in this case is once the page is built, add the audio piece at home. Whether you are planning to add an appropriate song or the spoken word, doing so at home – in a quiet location – will produce a much better sound experience than a large group of people doing the same thing in the same room.

After recording the audio at home from the previous Memory Cafe session, everyone could share their creations – or at least enjoy them themselves – before building the next page during the next Memory Cafe.

At the end of the 12 sessions, think about the finished product and how much enjoyable time it will provide your loved one.

Group or No Group

You don’t have to be a part of a Memory Cafe to thoroughly enjoy what LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book has to offer. That just happens to be our area of focus! Whether your loved one lives at home, with you, or has already transitioned to an Assisted Living environment, LifeSongs can be an active part of healthy cognition.

Build an Entire Recordable Memory Book Library

We all have different life stories. Some are simple while some are quite complex. If you find your loved one has a long, multi-faceted “story” with which to reminisce, you may want to focus more broadly. One way to make LifeSongs a regular part of your loved one’s day is to create a “library” of books.

While each LifeSongs book has 12 pages and can allow you to cover a lot of ground, you may find for your loved one, 12 is just right for “ONE” topic. The next important topic in their life may also have 12 “components.”

Imagine having the opportunity to reminisce deeply about any number of topics. On any given day, something might spark a memory about a certain part of your loved one’s life. Just pick the appropriate LifeSongs edition off the shelf and “topic-travel” down memory lane!

Consider a LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book all about family. Then, the next one can be a sports theme. Subsequent editions could be designed around career, military, friends – any topic that means something to your loved one.

Having a different Recordable Memory Book for each of the topics important to them, gives you options. You’re able to deploy the version that fits with the type of day they are having. If there’s comments about “The Army” you could bring out the military edition. If it’s Aunt Anna, it could be the family book.

Quality Provides Options

While a library of LifeSongs Recordable Memory Books allows a different experience with each one, the product quality should allow considerable use with just one book.

Let’s look at how to design your LifeSongs book to allow easy re-use.

No hole plastic sleeves 8 1/2 x 11

From Amazon

Instead of gluing memorabilia directly to the pages, attach them to colorful construction paper. Glue a clear insert to the appropriate LifeSongs page and insert that construction paper into the sleeve. The LifeSongs page is perfectly sized to accommodate an 8 1/2 X 11 inch sleeve and piece of paper!

Finding plastic sleeves without holes for a 3-ring binder has proven difficult. The Avery product to the right seems perfect for the job – no holes for 3-ring binders, open on 2 sides for easy construction, and comes conveniently packaged 12 to a set!

Helpful Hint

When gluing the protective sleeves to the LifeSongs pages, position the two open sides on the top and to the center (book spine.) This will minimize any possibility that anything might slide out the end of the book unintentionally.

Another Helpful Hint

We did not place a convenient link to Amazon for any colored paper. In most cases, your purchase would require a full ream (500 sheets.) We found some products bundled with as few as 72 sheets, but that is still way too many for this project.

Office supply stores like Office Depot and others have a nice variety of colored paper available for purchase by the sheet. If color is part of your plan, that may be your best strategy. If not, everyday printer paper works just fine.

Great Options

Since the recording function allows you to re-record at any time, and along with easily re-configuarable pages, you could re-design the book as needed and record new messages to match. This would allow you to build a library of “pages” to keep on file. Building a library of LifeSongs books as discussed earlier may be much easier, but with the quality you get, you do have options.

Tips & Tricks

We shared a couple of hints above to help you in building your pages. Next, we’d like to share a couple of Tips & Tricks to help you get the most out of your LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book. In this first one, the focus is on helping your loved one enjoy their Memory Book as independently as possible.

Each of the 12 recording buttons plays the pre-recorded audio you’ve created. Help your loved one identify the sound to play by making the numbers more visible.

Make Numbers More Visible

CONSIDER THIS TIP CAREFULLY! LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

The advice is to use a marker to make the raised numbers a bit easier to see. Raised white numbers from a white base isn’t the easiest to recognize. (Notice above, the full audio control photo.) Use a very sharp-tipped marker and just dab the raised areas carefully.

Again, be very careful! If you press too hard, or slightly miss the target, permanent market on plastic is… well… permanent.

Rather than swipe to make the mark, consider making multiple, soft “dabs” to get ink to plastic. When I did my test, I used a marker with a tip that was too large. Your best bet is to use one with the finest tip you can find – much more forgiving!

You could consider water-soluble markers to reduce the risk, but the expectation is the ink could wear fairly rapidly. The best advice is to ask an artistically creative friend to do the dab if you are not comfortable.

Only do the 12 numbers! Those are the only ones to which you want to draw attention. Do not mark on the Mic, stop, record, or volume buttons. That’s for you only and keeping those buttons more “subtle” reduces distraction.

Plan Your Layout

LifeSongs Recordable Memory BookWhen laying out individual pages, you may want to place an arrow with a note on the page, pointing to the appropriate button. The position on the page of course changes with each page, but it becomes one more easy cue on how to use the book.

Future Generations

Time marches on. The unfortunate reality is that at some point, your recordable library will need to fulfill a different purpose.

Yes, you can replace all the photos and other memorabilia and re-record new audio for a different individual.

Wouldn’t a better idea be to pass along the recordable library of very special books to another generation? I can’t tell you how enjoyable it would be to have something like this focused on my late mother or father.

I am lucky that my immediate family has not had to deal with memory loss, but like so many other families, my extended family has. LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book would have allowed me to be even closer to them – and their experiences.

Enjoy Your LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

A great way to help you imagine how LifeSongs can become an important part of your loved one’s life is to share what others are saying about their experiences.

  • “It was music to my ears to learn that Mom’s favorite songs could trigger lost memories.”
  • “Mom and I had fun making the memory book together and now she looks and listens to it every day.”
  • “Dad takes his with him to daycare.”
  • “Having 12 different songs or recordings adds an awful lot of meaning to the pictures!”
  • “We actually had Mom narrate each page and the grandkids get excited to hear her voice.”
  • “We used ours to tell the story of our family reunion and we enjoy it over and over again.”
  • “We set the pictures from Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary party to music. They love it.”
  • “Mom’s favorite page is pictures from her college years with added sorority songs.”

Reminisce in a very familiar manner, using old-school scrapbooks with a modern audio recording twist.

I love the concept and hope you will, too! I can’t stress enough just how positive of an experience this can be for individuals living with memory loss. (And their families, of course!)

I would love to get your feedback on my feedback. Leave a comment below and be sure to share with your community – LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book can become an important part of many lives!

LifeSongs Recordable Memory Book

Courtesy LifeSongs

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