Reminiscence Therapy

Reminiscence therapy is a form of therapy that can be useful and helpful to people with memory problems. It provides a way for people with a short term memory loss to conversationally and socially interact based on their long term memory.

Reminiscence Therapy

It is a simple everyday activity that if you are a family member, friend or carer you can initiate easily into a companionable period of time when visiting or caring for a person.

It could be using old photographs, spending time discussing the story behind them, musing on the fashions of the day, the friends in the photographs, where the picture was taken, what celebrations were taking place, the transport shown, or other relevant items in the photograph e.g. wartime memories. A different day for each topic is easy to plan and put into practice.

Video’s of old films, old loved film stars, all revive memories. Asquith Hall has a wonderful library of movies, “Gone with the Wind”, “Wizard of Oz”, “Oklahoma”, “Calamity Jane”, “White Christmas” but to name a few. We also hold theme nights, events, 1950’s afternoon tea and even 60’s nights. Food to conjeur up the taste and reinforce the things we loved to remember.

Objects also revive memories, household items, hair and makeup styles, recipes of the day. Tucking in a battenburg, maiden of honour, bakewell tart, Victoria sandwich or apple pie add to the imagery, stimulation and taste of the day. We use all our senses in reminiscence therapy, taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight.

It is easy to find what was happening in almost any point of time by talking to our residents. These are some of our recent groups: –

  • Life in the 1930’s
  • War time recipes
  • Songs of the 50’s and 60’s
  • Rockabilly jives
  • A wedding in the 1970’s

How We Develop Reminiscence Therapy

We have collected numerous items of memorabilia as physically prompts, charity shop items. Items have been donated by our families. We have recreated a 1950’s parlour with floral fabrics for curtains and household names on our walls, such as Coal Tar Soap, Cadbury’s, Oxo, etc. We even have ‘smell bottles’ containing odours of the era such as “dolly blues”, “moth balls”, “coal tar soap” and “brasso”. Why not come to tea in our parlour with cakes served on our vintage tea trolley and cake stand.

Reminiscence Therapy Items

Everyone reminiscences and for older people memories mean more. Reviving the memories and making someone happy is a good way to spend time. Like all parts of our bodies, the brain needs to keep functioning to the optimum level it is capable of and reaching into a person’s long term memory will make a person feel better and provoke a time of enjoyment for both.

Memories are centred on many factors in a person’s life and one of these that is sometimes overlooked is the memory of smell. Many older people have memories of happy events that are associated with smells.

Memories that may be long forgotten but can be revived by talking about them. we have made scrap books and created opportunities to smell memories, e.g. Sunday roast dinner, cut grass in the garden, pets, etc.

The smell of your favourite perfume is a wonderful experience, “Tweed”, “Channel no. 5”, “Violets”, “Ponds varnishing cream”, “Brylcream”. Easy ideas to incorporate in our smell and see sessions. Opening up a drawer in residents bedroom, with the draw liner smelling of lavender, or the smell of washing powder soaps are also easy way to work with people. We can still find items in our shops, such as “life buoy”, “pears”, “camay” and “cold tar soap” to conjour up stories of childhood and mother’s.

Many of our residents still like to use a duster and clean our handrails with lavender pledge / furniture polish. Even a weekly trip to our hairdresser is a memory.

We also have “smell bottles” containing smelling salts used to clear blocked noses and headaches, loudine used for wounds and cut knees. Seasonal smells of Christmas Cake and Mince Pies.

  • Key points regarding Reminiscence Therapy and life story work with those with dementia.
  • Reminiscence therapy and life story work are valuable psychotherapeutic approaches.
  • Reminiscence and life story work can improve the mood, cognitive ability and wellbeing of those with mild to moderate dementia.
  • There is evidence to support the view that life story work can improve the relationship, whether family or professional between the person with dementia and their carers.
  • Reminiscence therapy and in particular life story work provide a context for the provision of person-centred care in a nursing home or hospital.
  • Life story work can be especially valuable when the person with dementia is transferred from their home into a care home or between 2 care homes.
  • Reminiscence therapy can lead to an overall improvement in depression and loneliness.
  • By understanding someone’s cultural, spiritual and social background we can demonstrate sensitivity to a resident. Recognising individuals life stories, values and aspirations ultimately delivering person-centred care.
  • Uncover and presence the identity of the person.
  • Improve the quality of life through the impact of “being listened to”.
  • Allow staff to see beyond the diagnosis.
  • Facilitate communication between the person with dementia and their families.
  • Provide enjoyment for the individual.