Dementia Patients and the Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy

doctor and patient

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the United States, affecting more than five million people. It is a progressive biological brain disorder that slowly destroys a person’s cognitive abilities. Unfortunately, this disease is irreversible. Recent reports reveal that this disease ranks third behind heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death for people above 75 years old.

Dementia care is daunting, and approaching the role with the right attitude and some knowledge is crucial to success. The good news is that there are many innovative dementia therapies that benefit those who have been affected by the disease.

Reminiscence Therapy

Similar to creating a homely environment for dementia patients, reminiscence therapy is a strategy to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a treatment that uses all the senses to help dementia patients remember events that happened to them between the ages of 10 and 30 years. Psychologists call this stage of our lives as “the reminiscence bump.” People with dementia can actually recall the memories happening within this stage more vividly with the help of certain stimuli in the form of either photos, music, or scents.

What are the Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy?

Exercise for the Brain Resulting in Better Cognition

Numerous studies have found that brain-activating treatments can successfully help dementia patients maintain and improve their ability to focus and perform daily activities. Reminiscence therapy keeps the brain active and firing by targeting certain parts of the brain that deals with long-term memory and cognition. Using props such as old clothing or photographs to trigger a patient’s sense of identity, therapists can ask open-ended questions to open and lead discussions. This encourages recollection and memory. This activity helps stimulate the brain muscles as it tries to access those memories.

Improvement of Mood and Behaviour

Male patient tells the doctor about his health complaints

The main goal of reminiscence therapy is for the patients to enjoy their time, so setting the stage for them to talk comfortably about any memories is crucial. Choose the perfect time in the day and find a quiet, comfortable location. Talking about happy memories can help boost a person’s mood and reduce any stress or anxiety they may be feeling. If the discussion leads to different topics that can help boost the patient’s mood even further, then that’s a nice bonus. But during the sessions, you will also never know which memory will come up. If a sad and painful memory surfaces, it is important to respond with understanding and kindness. Try to steer the conversation toward a happy memory.

Improvement of Self-Esteem and the Feeling of Being Valued

It is common for older adults to feel disconnected as they age. Reminiscence therapy can help them feel content as well as help them feel like they are an important part of a family or community. It gives the patients the venue to talk to someone about events and people that are meaningful and important to them. It provides them with relief from boredom and loneliness, gives them the chance to actually contribute to a conversation, and boosts their sense of self-worth.

Reminiscence therapy stimulates long-term memories to improve short-term memories. At the same time, it increases the confidence and engagement of people with dementia.

Scroll to Top