For those that are caregiving for a loved one with dementia, it can feel as though the past is slipping away every day. Each passing moment becomes another forgotten hobby, home, or relationship.
Yet, although it can feel this way, it is not always the case! There are many dementia caregivers who have found new hope through reminiscence therapy.
What is reminiscence therapy?
Also known as life review therapy, reminiscence therapy is a method towards bringing back the past. Using the power of talk therapy, dementia patients are given cues to recall their memories. These cues can be either tactile, sensory, or both!
How does reminiscence therapy work?
For dementia patients, the cues utilized in this form of therapy are specifically targeted to bring forth a memory. This can be a photograph, a childhood toy, or a smell from their childhood. Whatever it is, it should give the dementia patient a ‘jumping off point’ for recollection.
For example, if a loved one grew up near an orange grove, a great sensory stimulant would be orange zest. The zest triggers the olfactory gland, activating a sense memory from their childhood.
If your loved one is comfortable, they can talk about the recalled memory. They can even expand on any other memories that are connected to it.
It’s important to note that the caregiver should never be interrogating the person with dementia. It is not your job as the caregiver to prod, asking again and again if they remember. Instead, the goal of reminiscence therapy is to allow the patient to lead the journey towards recollection.
What are the benefits of reminiscence therapy?
Combined with other forms of therapy, life review therapy has been shown to improve overall well being of dementia patients. The following are just some of the many benefits that can be experienced by reminiscence therapy.
Through intentionally recalling fond memories, dementia patients are actively taking part in joy. This reduces stress, releases oxytocin, and maintains a level of happiness.
Reduced Unwanted Behaviors
Any dementia caregiver can tell you, a reduction in stress is directly connected to a reduction in unwanted behaviors such as pacing, wandering, and outbursts.
Life review therapy is not solely for the dementia patient. Using reminiscing, this method can help reconnect caregivers, family members, and friends back to their loved one with dementia. The act of remembering gives the community an opportunity to connect, communicate, and support their loved one. Contact a home health aid, like one from Expicare, to learn more.