Written by Ryan on Tuesday the 26th of February 2019.
Reminiscing is not only a fantastic way to get to know your loved one as they tell stories about their past, but is also highly beneficial for the person living with dementia. Here we will explore the many benefits of taking part in reminiscence activities but also some engaging ones you could take part in with your loved one.
Benefits of Reminiscence
Reminiscence activities have been shown to have a multitude of benefits for someone living with dementia. The opportunity to talk and share memories is a brilliant way for someone to create and feel social connections. This social interaction is beneficial for reducing loneliness.
For someone who may be agitated or be experiencing stress, reminiscence can help aid relaxation. By taking part in activities such as smelling familiar scents, looking back on old photographs or hearing a favourite song can all help to relax someone.
It is common for people living with dementia to become withdrawn as they may struggle with communication or memory which can become frustrating. By taking part in activities in a group scenario, which are engaging, can help encourage involvement and help to improve mood.
Creating the Environment
Choose a time when your loved one is relaxed and try to create a calm environment. Evoking memories can sometimes be a very emotional process so it’s important that there aren’t loud noises or distractions.
Try to encourage your loved one by starting conversations and promoting positivity throughout. Choose activities which are suitable for your loved one to represent their interests and hobbies. For example the smell and sounds of the Garden would be fantastic for someone who would Garden a lot, but not beneficial for someone who had never been.
There are a wide variety of reminiscence activities which you can take part in with your loved one. These can be done individually or part of a group and each have their own benefits.
Music is a fantastic way to connect with your loved one and to help spark memories. Play a favourite song or piece of music and allow them to listen and absorb it, then encourage conversation of memories which surround that song. Sound is closely linked with our memories, therefore listening to sounds such as the seaside can also evoke positive memories.
Looking through old photos and keepsakes is another fantastic way to encourage reminiscence. These can be photographs of friends, family and pets which may help to spark memories of the past. Or perhaps looking through images of hobbies your loved one used to enjoy, for example gardening magazines are excellent for someone who loved to spend time outdoors.
Taste and smell are powerful senses and have been shown to evoke memories in people living with dementia. Serving your loved ones favourite meal or something they ate as a child can be great conversation starters, and involving your loved one in the cooking process can have an even more profound effect. The smell of the food cooking and the process may help trigger more memories.
Reminiscence is an important part of caring for someone with dementia. Activities which revolve around sparking memories have a multitude of other benefits such as encouraging social interaction, improving mood and aiding relaxation. Explore the variety of reminiscence activities you can take part in with your loved one and tailor them to suit their interests and needs.