Tuesday Tips for Caregivers ~ Reminiscing: Re-Visiting Positive Memories Can Be Good For Health

Tuesday Tips for Caregivers ~ Reminiscing: Re-Visiting Positive Memories Can Be Good For Health

Reminiscing and Alzheimer’s

Reminiscing is a common activity that many people do. Elderly people with degenerative neurological disorders often reminisce, even though their disorder impacts their memory. When people reminisce, it is usually about enjoyable times and fond memories of past events, especially when they were in their youth. Although reminiscing is also done by younger people, elderly individuals indulge in such memories because it can remind them of happy thoughts from a long time ago, and it can also help them distance themselves from unpleasant situations by reliving past experiences. Reminiscing is a healthy activity, and many researchers and professionals are beginning to see the therapeutic benefits of reminiscing for people with disease like Alzheimer’s, called Reminiscing Therapy.

Reminiscing Therapy involves letting your aging loved one recall past events, which allows them to re-evaluate their memories and recollect the emotions felt during those events.[1] [2] Reminiscing can be facilitated by incorporating photographs, old items, music, movies, etc. that existed during the time of the person reminiscing. Reminiscing behaviors has been shown to improve cognition, behaviors, and mood, while decreasing stress levels.[3] These beneficial effects can be seen with people who have a degenerative neurological disorder. Diseases like Alzheimer’s usually impact more recent memories than older ones. This is why people with Alzheimer’s often lose items or forget to do certain daily or weekly activities. As a result, those who have Alzheimer’s recollect events when they were a child or a young adult. One of the most important impacts reminiscing can have on someone with dementia is it boosts their confidence and self-esteem. This is because degenerative neurological diseases make people less able to do many of the things that characterized their life. But recalling memories from the past, relishing in them, and being able to share stories with others can be a way for them to practice this particular behavior.

What to Expect

Allowing your loved one to reminisce may come with some adjustments for family caregivers. For one thing, your loved one may repeat themselves, which is a common behavior for people who have dementia. Many times, this can be because the story they are sharing took place during a great time in their life. Sometimes, the story can be sad or difficult, revealing inner conflict and unresolved issues.[4] Unless your loved one is feeling distraught and you can tell that they are not okay, you should sit and listen to your loved one patiently. But, if there is a recollection that is particularly unhappy, you can distract your loved one by changing the subject so they do not dwell on a negative emotion.[5]

One more thing to facilitate reminiscing is to prompt your loved one with ideas. This does not mean coming with topics yourself and saying “Tell me about X.” This means using a range of cues at your disposal, like movies, music, food, photographs, and objects. Only you know your loved one well enough to think of what might spark a memory in their head. Whatever it is, just make sure you are ready to listen and be supportive.

If you have any more question, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

[1] Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/iage/201703/reminiscing-therapy-and-dementia

[2] Source: https://www.best-alzheimers-products.com/reminiscence-and-alzheimers-disease.html

[3] Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/iage/201703/reminiscing-therapy-and-dementia

[4] Source: https://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/living-with-dementia/keeping-active/reminiscence.asp

[5] Source: Ibid.

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