Degenerative Neurological Disorders and Reminiscing
Reminiscing is an activity that people of all ages do. It means recollecting happy memories and reflecting on the past. For those with degenerative neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, reminiscing can be an important activity in order to bring comfort and mental stimulation. Reminiscing is an activity that is safe and easy for those with Alzheimer’s to do because older memories tend to be more easily remembered than recent ones. In fact, reminiscing can be a form of therapy for those living with a degenerative neurological disorder because of its comforting and calming tendencies.
Because of the beneficial qualities of reminiscing, medical professionals have developed different ways to encourage and promote it because it can help improve happiness and mood. In this blog, we cover some reminiscing techniques you can try out with your aging loved one. This is a safe and relatively easy activity to do since it involves staying where your loved one is and talking to them, as well as listening to what they have to say.
How to Encourage Reminiscing
One of the most important points to keep in mind when doing these following activities with your loved one is to allow them the opportunity to speak for themselves and to recall memories on their own. Do not ask them “Do you remember this?” Instead, give them the time and space to recall memories on their own. One tactic you can employ is to carry on the conversation by sharing memories of your own, like “I remember when I rented my first apartment. . .” This strategy acts as a prompt to help your loved one begin thinking of their life experiences.
Additionally, give your loved one the floor for this exercise. If they repeat themselves, that is okay. The aim with reminiscing is to give your loved one the opportunity to recall happy events, increasing their mood and reducing stress. Maybe you can learn more about them and their life history, as well.
(1) Rely on their favorite music: One of the most powerful ways to evoke memories is by listening to music. If you are familiar with some of your loved one’s favorite artists from when they were growing up, then you can play this music and allow them to give you their reactions and share their memories. Music can often remind people of detailed periods in their lives. If it is music they like, then these memories will often be fond ones. On top of being a great way to encourage reminiscing, music is also a great mood booster and stress reliever.
(2) Pictures: If you know where to locate an old photo album that belongs to your loved one, then you should definitely rely on this to spark some memories. As mentioned above, since older memories are often easier to recollect for those with Alzheimer’s (or other related disorders) than more recent memories.
(3) Rely on the Senses: The power of smell is extremely strong. In fact, the famous French author Marcel Proust once relied on the power of smell to evoke memories in a character in one of his most famous novels, À la recherche du temp perdu (En. – In Search of Lost Time). If there is a favorite food that you know your loved one likes, try making it at their home. Wait and see if these smells can bring about some happy memories for them.
If you have any questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.