Reminiscence Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease

Reminiscence therapy is a technique that family members can easily try out with their loved ones that are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as a way to recollect and enjoy discussing happy memories. We at Carefect Home Care Services understand the difficulty that family members face when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and would like to share some tips for successful reminiscence therapy.

When people get Alzheimer’s, it affects the hypothalamus which controls memory function. This causes them to forget things that have recently happened to them since they are unable to form new memories. When this happens, your loved one might be able to remember things that happened 50 years ago while not remembering what they ate for lunch the day before or even on the same day. This can be very difficult for family members, especially if their loved ones experience problems remembering who they are. Reminiscence therapy is a fun way for family members to spend time with their loved ones enjoying positive past memories instead of focusing on the areas of their life where they are experiencing memory problems.

Reminiscence therapy involves prompting your loved one to focus on things they can remember from the past and how they felt during those times. You can prompt your loved ones by asking them questions or by looking for aides to help draw out their memories. Family caregivers can try reminiscence therapy as a one-on-one activity or get the whole family involved in the process. It can often be therapeutic for the patient as well as the family members to try it in a group setting. Many family members enjoy listening to their older relative tell stories about what their life were like when they were young. Having many family members there can also be good for the patient in case a difficult memory is brought up and they need emotional support.

In order to enhance the reminiscence therapy process, family members can create a slide show or bring pictures, music, or objects from their loved ones past that they will remember. Showing your loved one a slide show or old pictures can help prompt their memory by providing them with a visual representation of the event and possibly showing them how they felt when the picture was taken. Music can be helpful in prompting the memory since many people associate music with certain events and it might help them remember things from their past like a concert they went to or their favorite childhood song. Providing personal belongings is another helpful activity as many people will remember certain things about the items like when they got it or what they did with it.

Reminiscence therapy can be very beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients because it allows them to maintain a sense of who they are. Many Alzheimer’s patients become depressed or quit communicating with others because they cannot remember events or people anymore. Allowing Alzheimer’s patients to talk about things they remember from the past allows them to actively communicate with people about things that they can actually remember while they relive positive memories and emotions from the past. Many Alzheimer’s patients are said to “come alive” during this type of therapy due to the memories and emotions that they experience.

There are three main types of reminiscence therapy. The first is simple reminiscence which involves remembering pleasant events and talking about them. The second type is evaluative reminiscence which usually involves evaluating life events or decisions and possibly discussing what they did that they feel good about or what they would do differently if they had the chance. The third type is called offensive-defensive reminiscence, and it can often be difficult for people to do as it involves bringing up painful memories. Offensive-defensive reminiscence can be very difficult, but it can help patients and family members achieve closure or come to terms with negative events.

Family members are encouraged to engage in reminiscence therapy along with their loved ones, but they should not be forced to participate if they do not want to. Reminiscence therapy can be very beneficial for patients and family members, but it can also bring up negative memories, so family members should be prepared for this beforehand. Family caregivers can use different memory aides and divide the reminiscence therapy into multiple sessions to keep the Alzheimer’s patient actively engaged in conversation. If possible, family members should try to make it to each session, but if they cannot make it they can take turns leading the sessions or having one-on-one time with their loved one. Following these tips will greatly benefit your loved one with Alzheimer’s and make the reminiscence therapy process go smoothly.

Similar articles in Carefect Home Care Services blog:

Brain Boosting Activities for Seniors (2 parts article)

Gifts for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Fun Activities for Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s

For Alzheimer’s Patients: Using Art When Words No Longer Work

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