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. By bringing past experience into consciousness, “life review” improves well being for seniors. Reminiscence techniques aid in communication. By bringing what is hidden into awareness, distress and stress behaviors begin to alleviate.
An easy to remember reminiscing activity begins 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.” Or “Tell me about what it was like to sail in the San Fransisco Bay.”
And then I listen, with full acceptance of whatever she has to say.
The act of speaking and remembering improves cognition, reinforces language skills and connects with you as the listener. People with Alzheimer’s are no different from anyone else. Everybody wants to be heard and understood. In fact, as memory fails, people begin to seek connection with others.
Social contact has been shown to decrease disease progression and prevent the harmful effects of isolation.
Next time you visit your loved-one or a friend with Alzheimer’s, ask a question that begins with the words, “Tell me about…”
And bring along something visual, tactile or auditory–poems, stories, music, photos provide rich sources for stimulating memories.