Memories…every day we are forming new ones, but there’s something really heartwarming about revisiting those from some time ago. And for seniors with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, with a diminishing capability to retain short-term memories, those from years past are all the more precious.
In fact, reminiscence therapy for older adults is becoming increasingly popular as an approach to dementia care. The rewards are fantastic, including an enhanced connection and feeling of value and self-worth, and an improvement in confidence and joy. It is also a great way to tackle stress along with the challenges inherent with day-to-day life with dementia.
Bear in mind that reminiscing and remembering have distinct differences. While asking an individual if he or she recalls a specific place, person, or event can result in negative thoughts and feelings in the event that person can’t recall the memory, reminiscing shifts the main focus to the older adult with dementia, allowing him or her to steer the conversation.
For example, sit with the older adult and begin browsing through an old photo album, and see which pictures strike recognition and ignite a spontaneous conversation. And, understand that some memories can be painful, in which case you might choose to provide kind, supportive listening, or to gently redirect the senior to a more pleasant memory.
The following are three additional reminiscing activities; experiment to determine which are best received by your loved one:
- Music. The connection to music for people with dementia is simply amazing, as the area of the brain responsible for musical memories often remains undamaged long after other cognitive abilities have been compromised. Try listening to favorite songs from the past, singing along, or joining in with simple instruments.
- Scents/Tastes. Our senses of smell and taste are likewise effective ways to draw upon earlier memories. Assemble scent jars that contain smells that might be recognizable 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 enjoyed as a child.
- Touch. There are also a wide variety of methods to engage a senior loved one with tactile activities to spark memories. Much-loved previous activities such as knitting, gardening, painting, sewing, or working with tools can be modified according to the senior’s particular ability and interest levels. Even simply having the chance to hold a skein of yarn and knitting needles, or placing hands in a tub of cool, damp topsoil can bring to mind pleasant memories.
Morning Glory Home Care’s top-rated dementia care in Alton and the surrounding communities has been trusted by families since 1998. Our trained dementia care experts are highly skilled in meeting older adults with Alzheimer’s where they are, and helping ensure they reach their fullest possible potential, independence, and enjoyment in life each and every day. Call us at 618-667-8400 for a complimentary in-home assessment, during which we learn more about your loved one along with the challenges being faced, and also to let you know exactly how we can help.