Reminiscence activities are a wonderful way to communicate and support someone who is losing their memory.
Often this is the case in people living with Dementia. There are many techniques to trigger memories and bring about positive physical and emotional changes.
In this post, we will highlight the top 10 reminiscence activities to demonstrate this.
1. Memory box artefacts
From old clothes to jewellery, there are certain artefacts from a time period in one’s life that can bring associated memories to the surface when interacting with them. From smelling certain perfume to touching precious clothing. Many family members can trigger memories around special artefacts that can promote new discussions and memories from their past life.
Music has a wonderful way of transporting people back to certain memories. Whether a song from their wedding or related to their younger life, there are many examples of how music has enabled people living with late-stage dementia to come to life at the sound of certain tracks.
3. Art / imagery
Art and powerful imagery is a great way to help someone revive memories of a certain time of their life. One great example from the European Network Conference 2017 is where an elderly resident in Japan became agitated at the sight of certain flags during a cultural occasion. It turned out that she had memories of wearing her special Kimono during these occasions and wanted to put it on.
Film and television can have a huge effect on our memories, especially if certain shows or films were played often in their younger years. We’ve discussed in many of our blog posts on reminiscence therapy how television and film from a past era can trigger memories and excite the individual upon them remembering the show/ film.
Hymns and religious rituals can be a big memory triggering activity as often religion is a huge part of someone’s life and identity. Singing hymns together in a group can enable many people with memory loss from late-stage dementia to begin singing and interacting again.
We’ve come across many examples of how dance can be used to trigger memories, with many people remembering dance steps – even when a large part of their memory seems lost!
Many family members and carers will sit with people living with dementia and flick through photos- even creating memory photo albums as a great activity to trigger memories. Pictures from a person’s 20s and 30s seemed to be the ear they remembered the best.
8. Themed rooms (cafes)
Many people with memory loss and dementia enjoy the nostalgia of visiting themed rooms, also called memory cafes. Everything in the cafe- from the decor, music played, food served and clothes worn are from a certain era, making the visitor fully immersed in the environment and making them feel they’ve taken a step right into the time in their life they remember best.
By eating food that was enjoyed in their youth, many people living with dementia have claimed they enjoy eating these types of food more and regained a lost appetite.
10. Knowing their life story
A life storybook is a great way for carers and family members to refer to if they want to initiate a conversation with someone living with dementia.
If someone’s memory loss is mild, this would be a great time to begin their life storybook. Record a combination of stories, sounds, foods and of course video and camera to create a rich life story.
Creating life stories while you are still young and have your memories is becoming a more popular pastime for genealogists. It is a great way to offset the difficulties of creating a life story after memory loss has taken place.
For more information on reminiscence activities and how they relate to memory revival please see our post on The relevance of memory studies to Reminiscence activities.