Memories…every day we’re creating new ones, but there is something extremely heartwarming about revisiting those from long ago. And for seniors with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, with a diminishing capability to hold short-term memories, those from years past are all the more important.
In fact, the use of reminiscence therapy has become more and more popular with dementia caregivers in recent years. Just a few of the many advantages include a better connection and feeling of value and self-worth, and an improvement in confidence and joy. It’s also a great way to overcome stress from the challenges inherent in day-to-day life with dementia.
Understand that reminiscing and remembering have specific differences. Whereas asking someone if they recollect a specific place, person, or event may bring about negative feelings if the person cannot recall the memory, reminiscing shifts the focus to the senior with Alzheimer’s disease, enabling him or her to lead the conversation.
As an example, sit with the senior and start looking through a favorite picture album, and determine which photographs strike recognition and ignite a spontaneous conversation. And, keep in mind that some memories may well be distressing, in which case you will want to choose to offer kind, supportive listening, or to carefully redirect the person to a more pleasant memory.
Here are three additional reminiscing activities; try these out to see which are best received by your senior loved one:
- Music. The connection to music for those with dementia is simply amazing, as the area of the brain in control of musical memories often continues to be unchanged long after other cognitive abilities have been compromised. Try listening to your favorite music from the past, singing along, or joining in with simple instruments.
- Scents/Tastes. Our senses of smell and taste are also effective techniques to tap into earlier memories. Assemble scent jars, containing smells that might be recognizable to the older adult, such as pinecones and pine needles if he or she lived in a wooded area while growing up, and try to replicate favorite snacks that the senior liked as a young child.
- Touch. There are a wide variety of ways to engage the senior with tactile experiences to spark memories. Most-loved previous activities such as knitting, gardening, painting, sewing, or working with tools may be altered in line with the older adult’s specific ability and interest levels. Even just getting the opportunity to hold a skein of yarn and knitting needles, or to place hands in a tub of cool, damp topsoil can evoke pleasant memories.
Home With You Senior Care’s expertly trained dementia care specialists are highly skilled in meeting seniors with Alzheimer’s where they are, and helping ensure they reach their fullest possible potential, independence, and enjoyment in life every single day. Give us a call at 410-756-0959 for a free-of-charge in-home assessment, during which we get acquainted with your loved one and the challenges being faced, and to let you know how we can help. Reach out today to the Howard County senior care professionals families trust most to learn more about our top-rated home care services.