After a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s natural to wonder what future you can expect for them. If they have a reasonably mild form like beta-amyloid plaque accumulation in the brain, might reminiscence therapy help? Or is there no way to effectively reverse the damage once it’s done?
The idea that cognitive decline occurs over time might not be so new. People who have suffered head injuries or strokes may display memory problems for several months or years. As time goes on and the condition progresses, these symptoms weaken and then disappear altogether.
Of course, this isn’t always the case. Some people with dementia will eventually recover their faculties completely. But for many people with severe forms of the disease, a diagnostic answer is only just beginning.
In fact, dementia is now thought to affect about four million Americans and costs $150 billion annually. If your loved one has dementia, you might want to explore whether reminiscence therapy could be an option for them — especially if they have other illnesses as well.
To learn more about this form of therapy, keep reading!
Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy for Dementia
Reminiscence therapy is a type of occupational therapy used to help people with dementia. The goal of reminiscence therapy is to help the person with dementia talk about past memories, feel more connected to their life before dementia, and stay engaged in life.
There are many benefits of reminiscence therapy for people with dementia. First, reminiscence therapy can help reduce anxiety and depression. It can also help improve communication skills and increase social interaction. Additionally, reminiscence therapy can help promote independence and boost self-esteem. Engaging in reminiscence therapy on a regular basis can also help keep the mind active and promote positive emotions. It can also provide a sense of continuity for people with dementia who may feel like their life has become fragmented.
Difference between Reminiscing and Remembering
In psychology, reminiscence refers to the act of mentally recalling past experiences. It can refer to both positive and negative memories but is often used interchangeably with the term “memory.” However, there is a difference between reminiscing and remembering.
Reminiscing typically involves sharing memories with others to create or strengthen social bonds. This might involve talking about old photos, telling stories about past events, or even just thinking about happy memories. In contrast, when we remember something, we usually do so to learn from it or figure out what went wrong. This might involve studying an old document or discussing an event with someone who was there.
Both reminiscing and remembering are important parts of our lives, but they serve different purposes.
What To Do if Reminiscence Brings Up Painful Memories
When people experience reminiscence, it can dredge up painful memories from the past. It is important to have a plan for dealing with these complex thoughts and emotions. Here are a few tips:
- Acknowledge the pain. Don’t try to ignore or push down the feelings that come up when you remember a painful event. Recognize that they are part of what you’re going through right now.
- Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Feeling sadness, anger, frustration, or other strong emotions is natural when you remember something painful from your past. Allow yourself to feel them fully, without judgment.
- Talk about what you’re feeling with someone else. It can be helpful to talk about the memories that are troubling you and the feelings they evoke.