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Reminiscence: Taking The Time With A Loved One 

A good trip down memory lane can sometimes be exactly what the doctor ordered. While reminiscing is fun and can provide hours of entertainment, its mental and emotional benefits are its true power; especially in cases where one’s memory may not be as strong as it used to be. 

For many who suffer from degenerative illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimers, reminiscence, done in the right way, can provide a sense of wellbeing and empowerment, as well as a restored sense of self-identity: 

“By showing a genuine interest in the lives people have lived, by reminiscing with them, it is possible to rekindle or reinforce a sense of uniqueness, of personal identity and self-worth. People will come to value themselves in the present and by feeling more in control of their own lives their present well-being may be safeguarded” (Gibson, 2011).

Perhaps you’ve found yourself with a loved one or someone in your care who may be suffering from impaired memory and want to try to help; if so, this could be the article for you. 

Getting Started

People who suffer from memory loss tend to remember older, long-term memories better, like things from their childhood and early adult life. By starting here, you give your loved one a chance to feel confident and competent in their ability to recall. 

Before you start though, be careful not to place any expectations on that person to remember anything; this can become frustrating for the individual and may diminish their confidence. 

If you know the person well, try and start on a topic you know is of interest; if you don’t, it may be best to find out when they were born and do a bit of research on what was around at the time of their youth. Once established, you can start to ask questions or make comments alluding to certain topics. 

Questions should be worded carefully. Avoid asking things like:

  • “Do you remember when . . .?” 
  • “How old were you when . . .?” 
  • “Where did you . . . ?” 

Instead, try sharing your own memories to inspire your loved one to open up, followed by a conversational question.

You may want to choose a physical stimulus such as a photo, video, music, or body of text to help the process. Think outside the box too; some of our strongest memories are associated with music and imagery so things such as vintage advertisements, jingles and food packaging may really help drive those memories to recall.

Keeping Track

Once you’ve established some points of reference, you might want to consider saving them somewhere to come back to at another time. While you could consider a journal or scrapbook, an Iternal timeline – with its multimedia functions, navigable process, and chronological display – would be the perfect place to collate these stimuli; not to mention it’s a free service.

A few pointers to round us up: 

  • Never force the conversation, but don’t be afraid to lead it; it might just take a moment for the memory to come back to your reminiscence partner.
  • Don’t interrupt them or interject; once they’ve found their feet, they are the leaders.
  • Make sure they are as physically and emotionally comfortable as possible.
  • Be observant of changes in body language; this could reflect a negative association with a memory at which point you should do your best to bring everyone back to a happier, more positive stimulus.
      
  • Don’t ask too many questions; this could lead to confusion and may upset your reminiscence partner if they fail to remember something they feel like they should.
  • Everyday is different; what may work today might not tomorrow, and vice versa. Don’t let it discourage you from trying again another day.  

With Iternal, not only can you save the stimuli that really help your loved one with the reminiscence process, but you use the opportunity to build a meaningful timeline for them and those closest to them. Sign-up today for free and save the moments that matter.

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