What is reminiscence?
Reminiscing is about looking back at past memories, specifically those which bring back good feelings. It is a form of therapy that aims to mentally stimulate people living with dementia, it can be a great way of improving ones well being, along with increasing feelings of belonging and connection by engaging in meaningful conversations with those around them.
Why do activities for reminiscence therapy?
It is a person-centered activity, helping the demented to reclaim their sense of identity, as well as simultaneously calming and engaging them.
Meaningful activities are important to all of us, and as dementia takes away some of the things we are able to do. Maintaining a level of enjoying activities is valuable to both the carer and the demented.
Reminiscing therapy is not limited to use in dementia, but can also be a really lovely activity for an elderly person too.
How to start
Begin with conversations about the past, ensuring you keep notes on the things that the person you are supporting talks about. Finding out about them and their life will be a great start. Discovering the person helps them to feel that they are important and valued by you, also helping with their sense of belonging and being loved.
Types of reminiscence
Music for reminiscing
Music is a really simple and fun way to reminisce. While discussing what types of music genres and styles they enjoy listening, you can tie in conversation about what sort of things occurred when those songs were in rotation. Going into detail about where they were at the time or who they were with, and what live music events they attended can be really effective. Making a note of this level of information can help you with further reminiscence activity ideas.
Images for reminiscing
Once you begin to learn more and more about the person, you are starting to build up images in your mind until you have a large collection.
You can choose images together, using the internet. Create a folder on your device and save them all there. If you can, print them off and make a book with them. If you can combine this with personal photos, it will make a really nice mix.
Items of reminiscence
Household items have an added benefit of being more tactile and sensory. Items that can be practically used can provide a really comforting experience for the person with dementia.
This might be kitchen and tableware, a vintage radio, a crochet blanket, kettle, toaster, a record player, and general things they can use for repetition. Things like this will create the feeling of familiarity as it will be more recognisable than modern things; such as making their own cup of tea again if you are using a hob kettle that whistles. A common accident that can occur in older people with dementia, is putting an electric kettle on a hob.
All the best with creating some valuable reminiscence time with your loved ones and please share with us, via the comment section below, what you have found to be successful, or any other tips you might like to share to help others.