Written by Ryan on Wednesday the 10th of January 2018.
Utilising activities that focus on reminiscence is incredibly powerful when relating to a person who is living with dementia. Reminiscence focuses on sharing life experiences and memories, an effective and strong tool for a person with dementia, as typically, they find it easier to recall memories from a long time ago, rather than recent ones.
Activities that involve past memory recollection will give a sense of satisfaction and confidence as a person with dementia reminisces, as well as bring up happy memories and lift their mood. Sometimes, however, these activities can evoke painful memories, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it is important that these emotions are also responded and listened to.
Here are a few reminiscence activity ideas you may want to try with your loved one:
Fill a box with objects from the past that may evoke certain memories, these can be anything from print outs of old posters adverts, to old games and toys. You can source a lot of objects from Ebay, as well as charity shops and possibly you or your loved ones’ home.
The activity can be done one-on-one or with a big group. Each person takes out an object, passing it around so everyone can see and feel the item. The group then spends time discussing their own memories of the object, and any stories that it may trigger.
Spend time with a person with dementia and create their own life story. A life story helps a person with dementia reminisce about their past, their interests and hobbies and their family. Life stories also help their carers and loved ones understand who they are as a person, which may help shape other activities and conversations.
Life stories can be made in a large scrapbook, with different headings on each page, such as ‘Family’, ‘School’ and ‘Work’. Pose questions to your loved one, like “Where did you work?”, “What was it like?”. The pages can either be filled in with written words, or images and pictures, such as family photos or cuttings from magazines.
Old films can be a great way to encourage conversation about a person’s past. Choose era specific films, perhaps turning it into an event, like a film night. Once the film is over, sit with your loved one and discuss the film, the actors and any memories it might have evoked. You can also play specific reminiscence films, created using a series of short films that are designed to spark memories.
Print off a series of images that may help spark memories, such as a picture of a beach, or a wedding dress, or perhaps a fun fair. Then ask your loved one if they remember a time or an occasion where they interacted with any of the images, such as a childhood holiday to the beach, or their wedding day. You can then spend time discussing and asking questions about their memories of these events.