Reminiscence is something that most of us do at some point, whether it is looking back at happy (or not so happy memories). Our own unique history sets us apart as individuals and also brings people with shared interests’ together, enabling diverse opinions within each generation.
Taking part in reminiscence groups encourages social interaction through the act of sharing experiences together. Even the shyest of people can be stimulated to join in a discussion about the past, adding their own memories and stories to the mix. It can also be very therapeutic for participants to listen to accounts that are similar, therefore validating their own.
It can be a great boost for anyone’s self-esteem if they are listened to, notice is taken of them and they are in effect, the expert. The contributor/carer roles are switched with the carer obtaining wisdom and information from the contributor. The contributor becomes the giver and the carer the receiver. It is often the case that people in care can become isolated and feel they don’t belong. Reminiscence can assist to reduce this and help bring back a sense of belonging and identity.
Running a reminiscence group is a simple way to get to know people as individuals, especially in a care or nursing home. It also assists in learning about residents as individuals and allows for care to be tailored to being better suited to someone’s unique needs and preferences. Special anniversary dates and significant personal events can be used to break the often monotonous routine of living in a care institution and can be enjoyed by other residents and staff alike.
Reminiscence is especially important for anyone living with a dementia as their personal memories will lesson as time goes by. Relatives and staff need to record what they can as soon as possible before the brain’s ability to recall becomes significantly reduced and the memories are gone forever.
It is often helpful to have objects to hold, smell and sometimes hear to assist in the process – this works especially well with dementia groups. Where someone may not be able to respond to conversation alone, the act of say, smelling a block of carbolic soap may trigger memories of scrubbing the kitchen floor etc. They may even act out the role and talk about it animatedly in a way that just looking at a picture won’t generate a reaction.
Reminiscence kits are ideal tools to use for discussion groups and are available in many different guises. There are those that are mixed with different objects designed to stimulate memories of the past and those that are created for specific themes, such as Activities to Share’s Washday Reminiscence Basket; packed with wonderful memorabilia from the past. This includes: washboard, tongs, carbolic soap, dolly pegs, laundry basket and more. There is even a CD with washing-themed songs to sing along to, making any reminiscence session a truly all-round experience.
Others in the range include themes such as: childhood toys, gardening, beach, baking, ladies ‘Getting Ready to Dance’, men’s ‘Night on the Town’ and also two general mix kits of items from yesteryear. Items are carefully selected for their reminiscence value and are always high quality and long-lasting, thus making them extremely good value for care homes and day centres.
Libraries and schools are also finding these kits to be useful; many libraries across the UK now hold regular Memory Lane discussion groups and are extremely popular for local families who may have a relative who is living with a dementia or other memory-affecting disorder. Schools find them useful for history lessons, displays and performing arts production props.
Special memories can be recorded in journals such as a My Life Story book. These inexpensive books can be used to write down unique events and recalled stories of any individual. Photos, tickets etc. can be included and the books can be kept by the family and/or carers to gain an insight into someone’s personality and unique life before care.
Why not take a look at Activities to Share’s range of Reminiscence Kits and other Memory Lane products to enhance your loved one’s life. Go to www.activitiestoshare.co.uk.