STEVENSVILLE — Brian Johnston wants to help Lincoln Township Public Library patrons make good memories with their loved ones.
As head of public services at the library, he is doing just that after introducing Golden Memories Checkout Kits to the library last month.
The kits are designed to help caregivers read and interact with people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Each kit contains two books with pictures and large lettering, a deck of conversation cards and adult coloring sheets equipped with coloring pencils.
“It’s a good way to visit with them and get their brain stimulated,” he said.
Johnston discovered the kits through a presentation from another library at the Michigan Library Association’s annual convention in October.
The library has had the kits available for a couple weeks now, but Johnston said they are still trying to get the word out. The library has four kits available, all in plastic totes.
Through his research, Johnston said the library chose to buy the kits because they are a great way for people to connect with loved ones when they have a hard time doing so.
Johnston can relate to that based on his experience within his own family.
“Years ago, I watched my own grandfather, for many years, battle with dementia,” he said. “It was really hard to go and visit with him just because his mind was so out of sorts that you couldn’t really have any conversations with him or anything.
“That was kind of an inspiration for me to do this just because I know what it’s like to go through that.”
He said it’s important to have any activity when visiting a loved one who suffers from memory loss.
Johnston held a program a couple of weeks ago in which several people came in to see how the kits worked.
“The response was very positive,” he said. “We put a survey in the folder and hope people take a few minutes to tell us whether they liked them or if there’s a way they can be improved.”
Johnston said the library that presented the kits at the convention went above and beyond by also including MP3 players loaded with older music on them.
Other than that, Johnston ordered the same books to ensure users get a similar experience.
The library was able to purchase the kit materials through a state grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“It was going to be difficult registering for the materials with our budget,” Johnston said.
The problem was solved when the library was awarded the grant in the spring.
Next came cataloging the kits and placing them in the library. The kits are now on display near the music selections at the front library entrance.
Kits can be checked out like any book. The only requirement is that patrons have a library card.
“I’m hoping to empower people to be able to help their loved ones,” Johnston said. “I’ve seen what it’s like to suffer from dementia. It’s a very stressful thing that is difficult for the person suffering and the family as well.”
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