Reminiscing is an important activity for everyone. We all cherish our happy memories and enjoy talking about them. It is particularly important for those living with dementia to conduct reminiscing sessions from time to time. The process of reminiscing allows your loved one to cast their mind back to times gone by; to being nostalgic about happier experiences which occurred during their lifetime. It is such a wonderful way for those living with dementia to feel a sense of purpose and many experts in the field suggest that as we age, reminiscing takes on a greater significance.

There are many benefits to reminiscing including, promoting sociability, self-understanding and communication. It helps build coping mechanisms, validates personal life stories, imparts wisdom through shared experiences and provides a meaningful and enjoyable interaction with the caregivers. There are many ways to reminisce including both casual and formal and it can be conducted through one on one sessions, in groups or with families. Photos and videos are excellent sources for reminiscing as well as cherished objects and handmade items from the past. Feeling textures such as embroidery and patch work can also be very stimulating.

Developing a successful reminiscing session is important. When you ask your loved one questions, allow ample time for them to answer and don’t get frustrated if they take a while to respond. Try not to interrupt them and be sensitive; don’t put them in a position where they may reveal things they don’t want to. Always be supportive when your loved one repeats themselves and guide them gently to focus on something else by asking another question. Reminiscing should focus on pleasant memories but sometimes the person may recall unhappy memories which can upset them. Some of the topics you can focus on include the early days of TV, their favourite toys, the best birthday they ever had, weddings, music, children, holidays, traveling, school days, their parents, family and their younger days .

Encouraging those living with dementia to recollect and share memories is a stimulating mental activity. It promotes good social interaction and strengthens friendships. Wonderful and touching stories may be derived from this activity. We hope you conduct a reminiscing session with your loved one.