Studies suggest that reminiscence therapy should be used as part of routine treatment for elderly with memory loss, particularly those living in memory care facilities and other senior living communities. Reminiscence refers to the act of recalling of memories from the past.
It is something we do every day, but for someone with Alzheimer’s encouraging the act of reminiscence can be highly beneficial to their inner self and their interpersonal skills.
Reminiscence how: Activity and Therapy
Reminiscence activity and therapy is frequently used to give people with Alzheimer’s disease a sense of value, importance, belonging, power, and peace. It can also help reduce injury to self-image, and it can create a feeling of intimacy and give special meaning to contact time with others.
Reminiscence therapy works by targeting the “reminiscence bump,” a term that psychologists use to describe the timespan most easily recalled by middle-aged and senior adults, typically between teenage years and early adulthood. Memories from this time period become more accessible as we age and can be targeted using reminiscence therapy to help elderly recall specific memories from this time.
Even for elderly living with diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, memories from the reminiscence bump can be easily recalled using certain prompts and recall triggers, such as a familiar photograph, object or activity.
Reminiscence how it improves the quality of life
Reminiscence has also been found to moderately improve overall quality of life, effectively treat depression and improve cognition in people with dementia. Studies suggest that reminiscence therapy should be used as part of routine treatment for seniors with memory loss, particularly those living in memory care facilities and other senior living communities.
Reminiscence therapy has been found to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people living with memory loss. Specifically, reminiscence therapy offers these benefits:
- Improved heart health –– According to the study “I Remember When: Activity to Help People Reminisce,” seniors display lower blood pressure and improved heart health after reminiscing.
- Lower stress levels –– A study found that participants who reminisced about positive experiences had lower levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes stress.
- More social interaction –– Research suggests that older adults who participate in social activities, like group reminiscence therapy, have lower mortality rates.
Reminiscence how: especially for elderly with Alzheimer’s
When it comes to seniors living with dementia and Alzheimer’s, reminiscence therapy can be effective in triggering memory recall. Elderly with memory loss have an easier time recalling memories from the reminiscence bump. Because reminiscence therapy targets this period of time in the senior’s life, it offers an enjoyable way to help them remember happy moments.
There are many resources available to help conduct a successful reminiscence therapy session. In fact, new technology can assist in helping seniors reminisce.
Reminiscence how to use different mediums
A variety of mediums that use different senses can assist the act of remembering. This means that people who have difficulty communicating verbally can have the opportunity to participate in reminiscence therapy in other ways. These include visual (photographs), aural (music), smell or taste (foods) and tactile.
The Acerize table offers curated image galleries of familiar pictures, music, movies and advertisements, all meant to trigger distant memories. Experiences with the Acerize table also show reduced aggressive behavior and improve interaction with caregivers.
Reminiscence how to include others
In a care facility or in a professional setting, the cooperation and inclusion of relatives and friends can enhance the reminiscence time for all parties. They may be able to provide photos or remember incidents in the person’s life that can increase the pleasure and engage a person with Alzheimer’s disease attention more fully. Friends and relatives can also provide valuable information on any subject that a person may find distressing or upsetting that require increased support.
By all means, try to encourage participation but if a person does not want to be involved in the activity respect their right to refuse. Their refusal is as valid as yours, for self-protection, privacy, as an act of autonomy and power over their situation.
Reminiscence how to use it with the Acerize table
While going through the different software packages on the Acerize table, ask open-ended, casual questions like these to prompt your resident:
What did you like to do as a child?
What is your favorite thing your mother made for dinner?
What was your favorite holiday tradition?
What was your first job like?
How did your spouse propose?
Have you ever been to a foreign country?
Browsing through all the advertisements, movies, pictures, music and dozens of other media on the Acerize table makes reminiscence extra fun.
Reminiscence how to involve the younger generation
Reminiscence isn’t just beneficial for older adults and their caregivers, but can also be enriching for younger generations as well. Research on intergenerational reminiscence programs indicates that youth participants generally report positive responses and deeper connections to the older adults in their lives after listening to their life stories, while older adults report improved quality of living and a greater sense of overall happiness after sharing their stories with younger adults *.
If a loved one has grandchildren or younger relatives, we can encourage these relatives to ask questions about their life during their visits. The Acerize is a great table to get those conversations started!
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*(Chung JC. An intergenerational reminiscence programme for older adults with early dementia and youth volunteers: values and challenges.