Reminiscing provides an easy technique for communication and connection
For those with Alzheimer’s the therapeutic effect of reminiscing is particularly important as it taps into a visceral place, far deeper than memory alone. Studies have demonstrated how the process of “life review” improves well being for seniors by bringing past experience into consciousness. (Kuntz)
Care givers using reminiscence technique can use specific communication tools to bring what is hidden into awareness and help to help alleviate distress and associated stress behaviors. (Cohene)
An easy Reminiscing activity is simply to start with the words: Tell me about…
The sentence can be finished with a known fact about your loved one. For example, I might ask my mother, “Tell me about the Robin Hood you painted on your wall as a teenager.” “Tell me about the trip you took to California after you married.” “Tell me about what it was like to sail in the San Fransisco Bay.” And then I listen and accept without correction whatever she has to say.
The act of speaking and remembering improve cognition, reinforce language skills and offer direct a connection with you as the listener. People with Alzheimer’s are no different from anyone else in their need to connect and communicate. In fact, as memory fails, they seek connection.
Social contact has been shown to decrease disease progression and alleviate the harmful effects of isolation.
So, Next time you visit your loved-one or friend with Alzheimer’s, bring along something visual, tactile or auditory that will trigger a memory. Poems, stories, music, photos all offer rich sources for stimulating memories.