Reminiscence Therapy for Dementia

Memories…every day we’re making new ones, but there is something especially heartwarming about revisiting those from long ago. And for older adults with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, with a decreasing capability to hold short-term memories, those from years past are all the more priceless.

In fact, reminiscence therapy for dementia patients is becoming increasingly popular. For individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the advantages are fantastic, including an enhanced connection and feeling of value and self-worth and a boost in confidence and joy. It’s also a great way to manage stress along with the challenges inherent with day-to-day life with dementia.

Remember that reminiscing and remembering have specific variations. Whereas asking an individual if they remember a specific place, person, or event can cause negative thoughts and feelings if that person can’t recall the memory, reminiscing shifts the focus towards the loved one with dementia, encouraging her or him to lead the conversation.

As an example, sit with the older adult and begin looking through a favorite photo album, and see which pictures strike recognition and spark a spontaneous conversation. And, understand that some memories may be upsetting, in which case you’ll want to offer kind, supportive listening, or carefully redirect the individual to a more pleasant memory.

Here are three additional reminiscing activities; experiment to see which are best received by the senior you love:

  • Music. The connection to music for people with dementia is remarkable, as the section of the brain responsible for musical memories often remains intact long after other cognitive capabilities have been compromised. Consider listening to favorite songs from the past, singing along, or joining in with simple instruments.
  • Scents/Tastes. Our senses of smell and taste are usually effective approaches to draw upon previous memories. Create scent jars that contain smells that might be familiar to the older adult, such as pinecones and pine needles if she or he lived in a wooded area while growing up, and try to recreate preferred snacks that your loved one liked as a young child.
  • Touch. There are countless approaches to engage the senior with tactile activities to spark memories. Favorite past activities such as knitting, gardening, painting, sewing, or working with tools can be altered based on the older adult’s specific ability and interest levels. Even just having the chance to hold a skein of yarn and knitting needles, or to place hands in a tub of cool, damp topsoil can stimulate pleasant memories.

Anthem Home Care’s expertly trained specialists in memory care Portland residents depend on are highly skilled in meeting seniors with Alzheimer’s where they are, and helping ensure they reach their fullest possible potential, independence, and enjoyment in life on a daily basis. Reach out to us at 361-643-2323 for a free of charge in-home assessment, during which we become familiar with your loved one and the challenges being faced, and to let you know how exactly we can help.