Caregiver Corner: Reminisce!

By Pamela Atwood, MA Director of Dementia Care Services

Decades ago, health experts thought that reminiscing about the past was the first step in senility. Over 50 years ago, Dr. Robert Butler coined the term “life review” and his research proved that this is a normal stage of life for all older adults. Gerontologists now know that reminiscence and life review are healthy and important parts of positive aging. Some of the reminiscence topics our residents and clients especially like to talk about include:

Familyparents, siblings, extended family
School elementary school, games, teachers, favorite subjects
Holidaysmost important, meals, favorite memories
Occupationsfirst job, type of work, how you got there, pay rate, life’s work
Hobbiessports, books, games, movies
Travellocations, with whom, how
Changes during their lifetimetechnology, politics, society

Reminiscence can help older adults feel continuity in their lives. They also feel they are helping the next generation by sharing their experiences and wisdom. Reminiscence is an important tool working with older adults with memory problems too. Usually their long term memory remains intact, so we can connect with people through reminiscence. By talking about the past, people often begin to see the meaning in their lives, while building or strengthening a relationship with the person who listens.

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