How does one make happiness happen? One of my fellow coaches, Beverly, has a plaque that reads: ‘We don’t remember days; we only remember moments.’

That is true for all of us. We remember the joy of seeing our firstborn for the first time. We remember a moment on a vacation that brings a smile or a tear. We hear a song and the feeling it evokes brings to remembrance who we were with and what we were doing. We are capable of pulling those special memories out of our heads to enjoy them again.

Happiness for some elderly, however, doesn’t just happen. For someone with memory loss, if all they are aware of is this moment, caregivers need to find how to create as many happy moments throughout the day as possible. If dealing with someone with aphasia (a language disorder affecting a person’s ability to comprehend words or meaning), non-verbal or visual cues will create happiness. Each person can be quite different. Does music bring a smile?

One wife, unable to make her aphasic husband understand her invitation to come to the table to eat, recalled his happiness while ballroom dancing in years past. They went dancing weekly then. She decided to put on dance music prior to each meal and invite him to dance which he willingly did. Then she danced him to the table with a smile. When he saw the visual cues of a meal on the table he was ready to sit and eat. She felt joy seeing the happiness on his face so she continued this dance routine three times a day.

A daughter taped the Judge Judy Show – another the Andy Griffith Show – seeing the enjoyment their mothers got whenever watching. When their mothers became restless or irritable, they would pop in the tape. Voila; instant smiles and contentment!

So what makes your family member smile? Is it old photos? Is it plants? Do they love the beach, sunsets, baseball games? Try offering those activities and see what feelings of happiness you can make happen for both of you.