Reminiscing and Degenerative Neurological Diseases

Reminiscing and Degenerative Neurological Diseases

In today’s blog, we will discuss the process of reminiscing, or the recollection of happy memories, in those who have Alzheimer’s. Reminiscing is a normal activity and people of all ages do it. In those who have degenerative neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s, reminiscing can be a very beneficial and healthy tool to provide mental stimulation, comfort, and joy.

Reminiscing also tends to be an easier activity for people with dementia because distant memories (i.e. older memories) are the last to be impacted, since dementia tends to affect more recent memories first. Because this activity provides so much benefit to the person doing it, it is often seen as a recommended form of therapy for Alzheimer’s patients. As a result, people have devised various techniques to encourage and inspire reminiscing. If you are a family caregiver, you should definitely try to help your loved one reminisce and notice the transformative impact it can have on their happiness levels and mood. Today, we will cover some ways you can help your loved one reminisce.

Some Methods to Promote Reminiscing

(1) Bring out the picture book: One of the best ways to help bring back old memories is to look at old pictures. As a family caregiver, devote a day out of the week to sit with your loved one and flip through a picture book. Make sure you allow your loved one to recollect memories on their own, rather than asking them questions like “Do you remember this?”. Allowing them the freedom to conjure up memories on their own helps encourage their independence and allows them to control the conversation. A way to carry on a conversation with your loved one is to share memories yourself, like “I remember when I first started high school. . .” Tactics like this may serve as useful prompts for your loved one to start sharing their own thoughts.

(2) Play their favorite music: Music is one of the most powerful ways to bring back memories, as people often associate their fondest memories with their favorite songs. Music can remind people of an entire period of their lives, not just one particular event. Go through your loved one’s old records, and find something you think they will like. Allow the entire song to play and notice your loved one hum along to it. Not only is music a great way to let your loved one reminisce, it is also a great therapeutic device that can alleviate stress.

(3) Scents and tastes: The power of smell is strong. In fact, one of the most famous French novels, In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, uses the power of smell to illustrate its effect on involuntary memory. If you know your loved one loves a certain food or dessert, try cooking it in their living space, and then share the treat afterwards. See if this experience brings up any stories in their lives.

Some other notes to consider are to let your loved one do the talking and do not interrupt them. If they repeat stories, that is okay. Let them. The point of reminiscing is to benefit your loved one and their happiness levels. Give them the time and space to tell their stories. Maybe you can learn a lot from them as a family caregiver, as well. If you have any questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

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