You might be wondering, how does Reminiscent Therapy for Dementia work? It is a specialized treatment designed to help individuals with dementia recall positive memories through stimulating sensory experiences, that utilizes all five of their senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. As part of the therapy, objects of importance, talk therapy and sensorial activities are used to spur remembrance of the past. Being unable to recall details about themselves, or people important to them, can be a stressful event for individuals with dementia. Reminiscent therapy encourages positive memories to surface without pressure or stress.
How Does it Work?
Recent events are usually the first to deteriorate in individuals with dementia. However, you may find that they are able to recall cherished memories from the past with the help of gentle prompting, favorite possessions, or conversations with loved ones. The therapy sessions are specially designed to cater to each individual’s personal history, hobbies, and interests to encourage their memories to surface. Reminiscent therapy also uses sensory stimulation to help individuals recall positive memories – with music, art, scents, foods, and texture. The effect of the therapy depends on your loved one’s stage of dementia. It could elicit specific memories, story-telling, or positive feelings from the past.
Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy for Dementia
Being unable to recall memories, or people can be a stressful event for individuals. Reminiscence therapy helps to elicit positive memories without the pressure and confusion of continuous direct questioning. Minimal prompting, which includes songs, photographs, or the beginning of a family story, can help individuals recall memories specifically from their childhood or young adulthood. While it is not a cure for dementia, it can greatly improve the quality of life, mental wellness, and communication for individuals with dementia. Reminiscing about memories can boost the self-esteem of your loved one, can provide them with the opportunity to share cherished memories that are important to them.
Memory Care Communities
Many memory care communities offer therapies, daily social activities, and entertainment programs to help their residents stay independent, engaged, and lead a meaningful life as much as they can, despite their cognitive decline. They mainly focus on the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of their residents, as well as to help them recall positive memories and experiences. Here are some ways memory care communities use reminiscence therapy:
Memory Prop Box
Memory care communities may seek your help in collecting the favorite possessions of your loved one, to be put together as ‘Memory Prop Box’. This box comes in handy in soothing and providing comfort to your loved one, especially in their early days of transitioning to a memory care community. They can use the objects of importance in the box to reminisce independently, with team members, or with their loved ones. Some prized possessions can include photographs, scrapbooks, cloths, or other knick-knacks that have special meaning to them.
Reminiscence therapy can be conducted in small groups, as an interactive and bonding activity for individuals with dementia. For instance, they could listen to pop music from their teenage years and enjoy some traditional snacks, while sharing their fond memories with each other as they surface.
Part of the reminiscence therapy is using all five senses to elicit memories and emotions from the past. An example of taste therapy would be providing home-cooked meals that your loved one used to enjoy eating or cooking. The familiar taste and scent in air could remind them of happy memories in their home kitchen with their family members. For texture therapy, your loved one could be given soft yarn or fur, texture mats, or clothing with unique textures. It is a soothing and therapeutic experience that could elicit some positive memories of the past, such as the fur of their beloved pet dog, or when they were knitting scarfs for their family members over the holiday seasons.