People with dementia may not remember very recent events, such as what they had for lunch, or who visited them the day before; they are far more likely to remember their wedding day or their best friend in infant school. We have found that there is plenty that can be done to help manage memory problems for people with dementia, which can enable people to retain their confidence and independence.
Therapy through recollection
People with dementia often have difficulty remembering what’s recently happened in their lives. This can leave them feeling confused, vulnerable and less confident. However, their memories from years ago often remain detailed and intact. Recalling these memories can be immensely therapeutic, not to mention enjoyable. It can boost their self-esteem and help them make a valuable connection between the past and the present.
Talking about times gone by with loved ones, friends and carers is often referred to as Reminiscence Therapy. This involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences with another person or group of people, usually with the aid of tangible prompts such as photographs, household and other familiar items of the past. This has shown to help boost mood and stimulate wider conversation.
How a Treasured Memory Book can help your loved one
Research suggests that stimulating long-term memory can also improve short-term memory and increase the self-worth and engagement of someone with dementia. Many people say their loved one seems brighter and more able to recall recent events from the past few days or weeks after a session of reminiscence therapy - and this is where we can help.
If your loved one is in a nursing home, or has domestic professional carers, looking through a book full of photos and stories of their lifetime can offer great comfort. It is also be a great way for the staff to get to know them better, and gain an understanding of the richness of their lives before they had dementia.
Recalling positive memories makes everyone feel happy. If someone has dementia and is battling depression, good memories can become a powerful way to boost their mood. Reading through their own life story (or even just looking at photos) can turn a 'bad' day into a 'good' day – or even a good week.
Reminiscence Therapy is steadily growing in recognition as a way to help people with dementia. It is one of the most popular psychosocial interventions in dementia care, and is highly rated by staff and participants. There is some evidence to suggest it is effective in improving mood in older people without dementia.
If you need further information on this, or any other aspects of dementia, please visit the NHS website, which has a dedicated page, full of helpful information that can help those living affected by dementia.