Reminiscing When a Loved One is Living with Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted at May 20, 2014 | 363 Comments

Reminiscing Helps with Memory LossFor older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia, recalling recent events is often challenging. It leads to frustration for them and for their caregiver. Recollecting past events, however, provides loved ones with an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations. Known as reminiscence therapy, the practice uses conversation starters and other props to help a person with dementia revisit the past. Storytelling is typically the easiest way to bring memories to life again.

Here are a few suggestions you could use to get started:

  • Ask your loved one about their first job. Where was it? How much did they make each hour?
  • Talk with them about their first car. What kind was it? How old were they when they bought it?
  • Ask them what they did for fun in their free time as a child. Did they get to go to the movies in their younger days? Where did they go? How much was a movie ticket?
  • How old were they when their family got their first television? What shows did they like to watch?

Simple open-ended questions are typically the easiest way to help them remember the good old days. You will often hear caregivers at The Brook Retirement Communities asking similar questions to our residents.

If the conversation starter questions alone aren’t enough, you may want to consider bringing out old photos or keepsakes and asking them to tell you about them.

Videotaping these conversations may provide you with a great way to preserve family history and memories.

Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy

There are a wide variety of benefits that come from helping someone living with Alzheimer’s disease engage in reminiscence therapy. They include:

  • Improved self-esteem and feelings of self-worth from having successfully engaged in a conversation.
  • Decreased anxiety and agitation.
  • Increased signs of contentment and joy from remembering happier times.

If you would like to learn more reminiscence therapy, the Therapeutic Recreation Directory maintains a list of activities put together with the help of their members. You can explore activities ranging from Life Bio to Calendar Flashbacks.

Are you the caregiver for an older adult in Michigan?

Have you tried engaging in any reminiscing activities with them?


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