Recently (28th June 2019), NICE updated its quality standard on dementia and recommended that people should be offered activities such as exercise, art, gardening, music etc to promote their well-being (see our recent article on social prescribing). A key activity that was included in these recommendations was reminiscence therapy: aiding the recall of long term memories through the use of conversation, objects, photos, videos and other props and tools.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “People with dementia can find it harder to take part in activities, to engage socially, to maintain their independence, to communicate effectively, to feel in control and to care for themselves. Providing enjoyable and health-enhancing activities like music or reminiscence therapy can help with this. Understanding the activities that a person prefers and thinks are suitable and helpful, and adapting them to their strengths and needs, will make a person more likely to engage with the activities offered and therefore more likely to benefit from them.”
The methods by which one delivers reminiscence therapy will vary from person to person so care settings will always benefit from providing different cues for prompting memories. This can range from one to one therapy with carers to incorporating nostalgia into the fabric of the environment, eg through wall murals or objects such as retro TVs or memory boxes.
As well as engaging people, reminiscence therapy has been shown to reduce aggression and distress which has a positive impact on both residents and staff.