How does reminiscence help people with dementia?
For people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, short term memory is often one of the first areas to be impacted. Individuals living with the condition may find recalling recent events difficult and struggle to communicate their immediate needs. Unsurprisingly, the effects of this memory loss can be quite stressful and upsetting. It can also lead to feelings of anxiety, agitation and depression, which can be difficult for carers, family members, and loved ones to cope with.
That being said, many individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s are still able to recall older memories. As these are sometimes one of the last areas of memory to be affected, reminiscence therapy can be a powerful way of connecting and engaging with a person living with the condition.
What is reminiscence?
Reminiscence is about sharing fond memories with someone as they reflect on their past. Often, reminiscence therapy used in dementia and memory care engages all the sense to aid recall of happy past memories. For example, a reminiscence activity could include looking through old photo albums and talking about the pictures, or playing familiar songs from the person’s childhood. For example, at our Hilton House Summer Party, we held a gentleman’s afternoon in our cinema lounge, where they could watch the 1966 World Cup Final with some snacks.
It’s important to note that reminiscence therapy is not about getting someone to remember something specifically. For individuals who struggle with their memory, asking them to directly recall something (such as their parent’s names) could be quite stressful and painful. Instead, reminiscence is more about letting memories come and go through the use of prompts, like music, food or pictures, and sharing in that happy memory when the individual chooses to reflect on it.
What are the benefits of reminiscence?
Reminiscence activities and therapy can have many positive effects on individuals. Reflecting fondly on and talking about their past can bring a sense of joy, calm and peacefulness, which in itself is soothing.
Reminiscence is also a fantastic activity that gets individuals to engage and open up. Meaningful and effective communication is good for many reasons, however, individuals with dementia might opt out of talking a lot because they aren’t sure what to say or how to steer the conversation. Reminiscence gives them something of their own to talk about and gives them a chance to open up in their comfort zone.
Reminiscence Activities To Try
The great thing about reminiscence is that you can utilise all of the sense when you do it. Here are a few ideas of reminiscence activities you can try with a loved one or friend:
Try Food From Their Childhood
Taste is a fantastic way to evoke fond memories, particularly of childhood. As a special treat, you could make their favourite meal or buy a selection of nostalgic treats for you both to try.
To make the activity extra special, you could get into the kitchen together and whip up and old tried and tested recipe of theirs.
Listen To Music
Music is so powerful. In fact, studies have shown that music has a powerful positive effect on seniors with dementia, even uncommunicative individuals. For that reason, music is a great, accessible way to engage in reminiscence.
Simply sitting and listening to their favourite songs and maybe having a sing-along can be good and evoke happy memories and positive feelings.
Look At Photographs
Photographs and photo albums provide a helping hand in remembering key events through a person’s life. A quick flick through family photo albums can be a wonderful way to stir up positive memories and have a conversation about milestone events in a person’s life.
If you don’t have family photos, historic photos or older magazines can also be a great way of looking back into the past.
Engage In Familiar Activities
Touch can also be a great reminder of the past, particularly if the person previously did a hobby or a job with their hands. Activities such as painting, knitting, sewing, and crafting can evoke strong memories and put a smile on faces.
Dementia & Memory Care from Lovett Care
Here at Lovett Care, we deliver specialist dementia and memory care to residents across all of our care homes. We understand the unique needs of our residents and, along with meeting their personal care needs, we strive to help individuals lead fulfilled and active lives. We do this through an engaging programme of activities, including reminiscence, which can help bring residents out of their shell and put a smile on their faces.
To find out more about our dementia and memory care services across Cheshire and Staffordshire, contact us today.