Alongside helping family and friends stay connected with a person, reminiscing is an important activity for people living with dementia.
People living with dementia find it easier to access long term memories, than those that happened a few days or minuets ago. Reminiscing activities ideally will be varied in sensory stimulation as this method is particularly effective.
Reminiscence can include looking through old photos, listening to music, taking part in tactile activities such as pottery, painting and arts and crafts.
Here is range of reminiscing activities for people living with dementia that you can try at home with a loved one.
Where do I start?
Having conversations about the past is always a good starting point. It offers you the opportunity to gain an insight into a person’s past life and what they used to enjoy. When having conversations about the past, it would be really useful to take down some notes as it will help you to put together some activities.
Things to discover that will get you started:
- What did they do when they went out for entertainment?
- When you speak and ask about music, what songs do they remember?
- What people were influential in their life?
- What things did they wear?
- What did they used to do for work?
- Did they like arts and crafts?
- Did they used to go dancing? If so, what type of dance did they enjoy?
From your list you should be able to pull together some images to spark more memories and conversation. It would be helpful to place your images into different categories which will turn into different subjects of conversation. For example, you may have a collection for Hollywood stars of their time, world events, musicians and singers and other icons relating to the person’s life. You can either print off the images and place them in a book to go through together, or you could have a collection of images on an iPad or laptop.
Music has been shown to effectively engage people living with dementia. Once you have discovered the types of music the person enjoys, you will be able to find the music on various audio streaming platforms such as Spotify, iTunes and Amazon music. You can also use YouTube which may also provide visual performances of favourite artists.
Singing is great for a person’s well-being and if your loved one enjoys singing, perhaps you can print off some lyrics to their favourite songs which prompts a sing along together.
Arts and Crafts
After speaking to your loved one, you may find that they used to enjoy doing arts and crafts in their spare time. If so, the best crafts to choose are ones already familiar to them as they will most likely enjoy the activity again. It’s worth bearing in mind that although they may be familiar with the arts and crafts, they may need extra help in getting back into it again or may need the craft simplified or adapted depending on the craft itself.
Finding items to us to reminisce can be slightly harder to come by and to store but keep your eye out when walking past charity shops or car boot sales as you may find items such as; hob kettles, postcards, old toys etc. You may also be able to get access to a person’s keep sake items that you can both touch and talk about. Touching and feeling items is a great way to stimulate the senses.
Once you’ve discovered the person and collected the things you need to have reminiscence sessions, you can continue to do this regularly. When doing the sessions, the person may remember or recall other important parts of their past meaning you can continue to add to the collection.