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Celebrating Four Decades of Quality Care ~ 1982 - 2022

Benefits of Reminiscing for Seniors

“God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December.”

J.M. Barrie

We all have them. The memories we create through the years become priceless treasures when we reach the winter of our lives. Our view of life is shaped by things that happened to us in the past. Memories define us. They are the building blocks of our lives and the music in our souls.

As we age, our memories can become clouded and difficult to retrieve. In most cases, remembering things from the distant past is easy, but remembering a new friend’s name or shopping without a list becomes a challenge.

Dementia is a syndrome that causes a decline in cognitive function, memory, comprehension, language skills, and judgment.

The beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s are frightening. Losing track of time, forgetting where you put things, or getting lost in familiar places make a person feel weak and inadequate.

Reminiscent Therapy can be therapeutic and rewarding for people who have trouble with long or short-term memory. It is a treatment that engages all the senses. Sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch can all be a part of the reminiscing process and are among the many benefits of reminiscing for seniors.

Looking at old photographs is a great activity to share with your loved one. They can spark a memory and initiate a conversation between you that can be cherished in years to come.

The smell of cookies in the oven or early morning biscuit baking can inspire some very pleasant memories.

Listening to music not only stimulates the mind but will provide entertainment and enjoyment for both of you.

Studies show that people with Alzheimer’s can often remember how to play an instrument, such as the piano, or the lyrics to favorite songs despite their disease.

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Here are a few reminiscing ideas for elderly friends or loved ones.

  • Asking reminiscing questions for seniors will arouse pleasant memories and open the door to enjoyable conversations.

  • Questions for reminiscing with seniors are important. Asking questions that allow a person to define their identity can do wonders for self-esteem.

  • The best way to encourage a person to talk about the past is to ask a thought-provoking question and then listen attentively to the answer. Almost everyone enjoys talking about themselves and sharing life’s experiences.

  • The following questions are great conversation starters.

    • Do you remember your childhood home?

    • What was your life like when you were 21?

    • What can you tell me about your wedding day?

    • Can you tell me about your family holiday celebrations?

    • What was the best experience of your life?

    • Can you tell me about your best friend?

Reminiscing games for the elderly can help with dementia, stress, agitation, and restlessness. Games that involve tasting or scent identification are fun and can also initiate conversation.

Cinnamon sticks, freshly mown grass, peppermint sticks, lavender, pine needles, and chocolate are good props to use for identifying smells and tastes. The items can also stimulate memories and discussions.

Reminiscence groups for seniors allow them to interact with others while playing reminiscing games elderly people might enjoy.

Tossing a ball around a circle of friends and having the person who catches the ball share a memory provides both exercise and socialization.

The elderly people in our lives were once somebody’s parents, sweetheart, best friend, sister, brother, son, or daughter. Sometimes we just need to ask the right questions to open a line of communication that will allow them to tell us about their triumphs, tragedies, joys, and accomplishments. Reminisce with them. Laugh and cry with them. Memories are their treasures, and they are eager to share them.

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