Memories…every single day we are creating new ones, but there’s something specifically heartwarming about revisiting those from some time ago. And for older adults with Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, with a diminishing capability to retain short-term memories, those from many years’ past are all the more important.
In fact, reminiscing as a therapeutic approach is becoming increasingly popular for individuals with dementia. The benefits are wonderful, most notably an enhanced connection and feeling of value and self-worth, and a boost in confidence and joy. It is also a terrific way to tackle stress along with the struggles inherent with day-to-day life with dementia.
Understand that reminiscing and remembering have specific differences. While asking an individual if he or she recollects a particular place, person, or event can lead to negative thoughts and feelings if the individual can’t recall the memory, reminiscing moves the main focus towards the loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, allowing her or him to direct the conversation.
As an example, sit with the individual and start looking through an old photo album, and determine which images strike recognition and trigger a spontaneous conversation. And, realize that some memories may be painful, in which case you will want to offer kind, supportive listening, or to carefully redirect the senior loved one to a more pleasant memory.
Here are three additional reminiscing activities; try these out to determine which are best received by your loved one:
- Music. The connection to music for people with dementia is simply astonishing, as the part of the brain responsible for musical memories often continues to be unchanged long after other cognitive capabilities have been compromised. Try out listening to 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 draw upon previous memories. Create scent jars, containing smells that may be recognizable for the senior, such as pinecones and pine needles if he or she lived in a wooded area while growing up, and try to recreate preferred foods that the senior enjoyed as a young child.
- Touch. There are also countless techniques to engage the individual with tactile activities to stimulate memories. Much-loved previous activities such as knitting, gardening, painting, sewing, or working with tools may be modified according to the senior’s specific ability and interest levels. Even simply having the opportunity to hold a skein of yarn and knitting needles, or to place hands in a tub of cool, damp topsoil can stimulate pleasant memories.
Live Free Home Health Care’s experienced dementia care specialists are highly skilled in meeting seniors with dementia where they are, and helping ensure they reach their fullest possible potential, independence, and enjoyment in life on a daily basis. Give us a call at 603-217-0149 for a free-of-charge in-home assessment, during which we learn more about your loved one along with the challenges being faced, and let you know the ways we can help. To learn more about our top-rated Franklin home care, reach out to us today!