“Although memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia diminish an individual’s ability to think clearly and recall facts, memory care experts tell us that the area of the brain that stores long-term memories is not affected until the later stages of dementia’s progression. says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, the beautiful new memory care community opening this December in Pensacola, Florida.
“This explains why individuals with memory loss typically remember much more about their younger days than about what happened yesterday. For example, they can often recall people and events from 60 years ago with crystal clarity, but are unable to remember what they had for breakfast that same morning.
“Because of this phenomenon, reminiscing about the happier times in life is now used as a legitimate form of memory care therapy that helps loved ones with dementia to engage and connect with the world around them while reducing their symptoms and improving their quality of life.”
The Tangible Benefits of Therapeutic Reminiscing in Memory Care
The article,“The Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy for Seniors,” reports that the benefits of therapeutic reminiscence are significant and meaningful. It informs us that persons with dementia often become isolated from their identities as their memories fail and as the daily challenges of living overwhelm the past. Creating a means to connect with past memories can help to re-establish a valuable bridge to the present.
Specific benefits include:
- Alleviating symptoms of anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness and depression.
- Reducing apathy and general lack of interest in the world around them.
- Increasing the ability to communicate. Research has shown new pathways in the brain form as a loved one remembers the past.
- Re-establishing life's meaning for a person through connection to the past and reasserting their feeling of importance.
- Increasing self-worth and sense of belonging in the world.
- Providing relief from boredom and offering a distraction from day-to-day problems.
The Primary Forms of Therapeutic Reminiscing
Matthew Giobbi, PhD, a memory care therapy expert, states that reminiscence therapy is intended to prompt or "prime" forgotten memories, increase emotional awareness and cultivate social interaction. He suggests that there are five basic forms of reminiscence that are linked to the five human senses:
- Sight – The sight of a certain item can bring back memories from your loved one’s earlier life. Visual cues can also include photographs, magazines or films from a time that is significant to the person.
- Sound – Recordings of old songs, sounds and voices with personal, historical and occupational significance to the person can be very powerful memory cues.
- Touch – Items that engage the patient's tactile sense can include clothing, blankets, fabric swatches and fur, as well as occupation-specific items. For example, a loved one who was a teacher may respond when given a piece of chalk.
- Smell – Aroma has the power to take a loved one to another place and time in their life. Aromatherapy using food, perfumes or commercial items of a specific era can stimulate the brain and create emotional contact.
- Taste – Era-appropriate recipes, soft drinks and spices from your loved one’s younger days can be highly effective in prompting memories and expression.
Adds Lonette, “Because of their many proven benefits, reminiscence memory care therapy and other effective social engagement therapies involving music, art, pets and pleasant aromas are used extensively with our residents at Clarity Pointe Pensacola. The good news for at-home caregivers is that you can also utilize reminiscence therapy techniques with your loved one in the home environment.”
Tips for Using Reminiscence as a Memory Care Therapy at Home
Reminiscing sometimes occurs without any prompting, but you might also need some help to get your loved one at home started down memory lane. Here are a few creative ways that at-home caregivers can encourage their loved ones to reminisce about their life story:
- Create a “Memory Box” – Make a box with meaningful keepsakes from your loved one’s life, such as souvenirs from trips, gifts from a spouse or any other special items they’ve held on to. Use the items as conversation starters and ask them questions about the people or events each item represents.
- Make a Life Story Book – Make a scrapbook of your loved one’s life, writing down their personal history and recording their most memorable life events. Add photos, old letters and other memorabilia. Creating the book will give you and your loved one something fun to do together, and once it’s finished, the book will be a useful tool whenever your loved one wants to reminisce.
- Enjoy the Sights and Sounds from “Back in the Day” – Look through old photo albums, listen to favorite music or watch home videos to reminisce about the good times from your loved one’s past.
- Ask About Your Loved One’s Good Old Days – Reminiscing can begin simply by asking a question. Be a good listener so you can keep the conversation going. While the options listed above provide an extra level of engagement, the most important part of reminiscence therapy is enabling your loved one to share their favorite memories with someone who cares.
Supporting At-Home Caregivers and Families with information and Guidance
At Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, we recognize the many challenges memory care caregivers face, and we’re always here to help. In addition to providing exceptional memory care for loved ones with memory loss, we also offer a variety of resources for families to help them meet the challenges of caring for a loved one with memory loss while continuing to have meaningful interactions and relationships.
You can also view Clarity Pointe’s valuable memory care articles and tips for at-home caregivers that address a variety of helpful topics that you can put to use today. And as we prepare for our grand opening this December, we invite you to visit our website for ongoing updates and information.”
Clarity Pointe … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in memory care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living, compassionate, respectful memory care and life-enriching activities that make each day meaningful.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and purposeful.