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Tips on Working with Elders with Mild Memory Loss

Viewing Old Photos (2)

Activities that help to evoke memory and improve cognition

  • Use photos of family members and close friends to spark conversations.  You can make a photo book together from the elder’s collection of old and recent photos
  • Help your elder keep a Daily Journal of activities featuring: today’s date; important phone numbers; and the day’s schedule, including appointments, visitors, and activities
  • Engage your elder with some of your elder friend’s favorite activities:  listening or playing music, playing mahjong, or gardening
  • If they are able, participate in walking and dancing activities (improve cognition and mood)
  • Engage in word puzzles, and practice simple everyday math using play money, such as making change in transactions

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A FriendshipWorks Match Story: Stories, Loss, and Friendship


Meredith and Alvin
Meredith and Alvin

When you first meet Alvin, a former playwright and actor, you’ll be impressed with his seemingly boundless energy and gregariousness.   During our interview with Alvin, in the middle of sharing one of his many fascinating stories from his Broadway days in New York, he would hop off his walker seat, stroll into the backroom and bring out photos or flyers related to the story.

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Telling Our Stories Across Generations

Oral History ProjectFriendshipWorks Volunteers can think of questions as gifts. What was your favorite summer pastime as a kid? Who did you look up to the most in your life? What is your best advice for today’s younger generations? These questions are treasures. When you ask the right question, you unlock a trove of memories, insights and lessons.

In 2014, FriendshipWorks partnered with Temple Sinai in Brookline for a very special kind of memory exploration. Twelve octogenarians were matched with 12 volunteers for an intergenerational oral history project. Over the course of the year, these matches met and shared stories. The elders and their younger matches bonded, laughed, and even cried. The oral historians had the privilege of hearing another person’s story. They may have been the first person to ever hear a certain story, the first person who ever asked the question that unlocked that memory.

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A Volunteer Story: Sharing the Joy of Music

MusicWorks Volunteer Ruby
MusicWorks Volunteer Ruby

(July, 11, 2016)   Ruby, a native of Hong Kong, loves music, having studied piano and classical music since she was five years old. She also has another passion, sharing her love and joy of music with others, especially among people with disabilities and the elderly. Ruby’s passion for sharing and helping others led her to England to complete a Masters’ degree in Community Music. Upon graduation, she volunteered and worked at various interactive music therapy programs there, working with elders with Alzheimer’s and those who are visually impaired. Read More

Sharing the Joys of Conversation and Food with Joan

Stephanie and her mother         


(June 7, 2016)  FriendshipWorks is a wonderful organization that reminds us the joy and value of new friendships. Through FriendshipWorks I was introduced to my dear friend Joan. Joan is an 80 year old witty, caring woman with many stories and wisdom to share. We meet once a week for tea, and when we want to indulge- a glass of wine. Sometimes we order pizza, sometimes we make dinner, and no matter what we always finish with a big bowl of ice cream! Read More