Dementia is a condition that affects memory and cognitive functioning. As the disease progresses, dementia patients often lose the ability to recall recent events and people. However, their long-term memories can remain intact. Organizing activities and events focused on reminiscing can provide meaningful engagement for dementia patients.
Tailor Events to the Individual
Get to know the person’s history, interests, and talents. What were their hobbies? What did they do for work? Understanding their background will help you create events tailored to their unique experiences. For example, if they enjoyed music, put on a concert of their favourite songs. If they like to cook, bake cookies together using one of their recipes.
Incorporate Reminiscence Therapy
Reminiscence therapy involves discussing past experiences and engaging with memorabilia to evoke memories. Look at old photos, watch classic movies, listen to music they enjoyed in their youth, or page through catalogues from their era. These activities provide mental stimulation while connecting them to comforting memories.
Engage Multiple Senses
Incorporating different senses can enhance reminiscing. Cook favourite childhood foods and enjoy the nostalgic smells together. Feel different tactile objects that may spark recollections, like hand tools, beads, or fabrics. Use essential oils with scents reminiscent of their past. Stimulating multiple senses creates a richer experience.
Keep it Simple
Dementia patients can become overwhelmed by complex tasks. Break activities down into simple steps. Sing familiar songs from their youth. Work on easy puzzles with tactile pieces. Fold laundry or “garden” with plastic tools and textured dirt. Simple, familiar tasks provide a sense of purpose and achievement.
Encourage dementia patients to express themselves through creative outlets like painting, drawing, crafts, or collage. Use bold colours and large surfaces without defined spaces. Focus on the sensory experience, not the end product. The act of creating is therapeutic and can help communicate feelings.
Videos of family, virtual tours, and personalized tablets with nostalgic content can engage dementia patients at home. Stream nature cams or explore places meaningful to them with Google Earth. Transfer home movies onto a DVD or tablet they can watch when feeling restless. Technology provides stimulation and comfort.
Remain Patient and Positive
Frustration arises when activities exceed abilities. Meet dementia patients where they are cognitively and keep expectations flexible. Smile, laugh, and focus on enjoying the moment together. A positive environment filled with familiarity and encouragement is most conducive to reminiscing.
Organizing dementia-friendly events focused on reminiscing provides comfort, joy, and mental engagement. Tap into long-term memories, incorporate creative outlets, engage the senses, embrace technology, and most importantly, have fun reliving the past together.