Agora Association
First reminiscence center in romania



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What reminiscence is?


Reminiscence sessions

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Asociatia Agora - Primul centru de reminiscente din Romania

Reminiscence centers


What reminiscence is and how to run a reminiscence group
Coordonating reminiscence sessions
Confidentiality and planning reminiscence sessions
Evaluating reminiscence sessions
Advantages for beneficiaries
Advantages for take-carers
Examples of themes



What reminiscence is?

Reminiscence is the process of updating, bringing back indefinite memories or facts that happened a long time ago, which where thought to be forgotten. Due to reminiscence processes, people can share past life experiences, talk about the past, think about the present and judge the future.

Cum sã conduci un grup de reminiscenþe

One of the key steps in building a reminiscence group is given by the skills of the monitor or the caretakers, skills that can be trained and developed through an appropriate training process. Monitors of reminiscence groups may as well be formal or informal caretakers that have passed through a training period on the technique of reminiscence stimulation. It is recommended that these specialized monitors should have a basis training in areas related to social or medical sciences, psychology, pedagogic, art or history. The most important qualities needed by somebody who desires to get involved in a reminiscence group include: being interested in what people have to say, having the capacity to facilitate group interaction, as well as the skill to use any opportunity in order to stimulate discussions and interactions between members of the group. Becoming monitor of a reminiscence group requires first of all an honest answer to a basic question: what does reminiscence mean to you? You may start by thinking about whether you would like to remember sequence of you personal life. If this question gains a positive answer, it is a sign that you think of reminiscence as being a positive and also useful activity, a technique you may also use in a group environment. However, if you’d rather not go back to your own past, you will most likely not be able to successfully face leading and monitoring responsibilities in a reminiscence group. You would probably get through to the group the message that reminiscence is an intrusion in one’s intimacy or an attempt to bring back facts that people have tried to forget. Working within a reminiscence group requires an honest and active interest towards details of everyday life of ordinary people, as well as celebrities, that is of individuals that have gained outstanding achievements during their lives. Having confidence in your abilities to manage these activities comes with the territory, after you have done some research and training and have gained some experience.




Before starting his job with a reminiscence group, the monitor needs to know some facts about:

a) The aim and topics of a reminiscence activity
b) Number and duration of reminiscence sessions
c) Method to recruit suited, fitting staff
d) Locations where reminiscence activities should be organized
e) Monitoring and evaluation techniques of every reminiscence stimulation session.

    a) The aim and topics of a reminiscence activity should first of all be established by the members of the reminiscence group from one session to another, in order to have the time to prepare the next meeting. The sessions may have a merely social subject, or may be part of an activities program, aiming to use and help develop participants’ abilities, or all members of the group can work together in order to create a certain product (like an album, an exhibition or a book on the chosen subject). For each patient, the involvement in a reminiscence group can become part of the individual care program, as this helps us better understand patients, other people, help them interact with one another or sustain them to communicate about personal issues.

    Under given circumstances, the number and duration of reminiscence sessions can be determined by the available resources. If the beneficiaries of the reminiscence sessions form a numerous group, we suggest splitting them into groups of maximum 10 people that can be scheduled twice a week, each session lasting no more than 2 hours. The schedule of reminiscence sessions should be established after consulting all participants, so that everyone should have the possibility to plan their meetings for the coming weeks. In residential centers it is recommended that one group should not include more than 8 members, and one session should better last no more than one hour, this because residents are usually also involved in other daily activities that require their time and attention. If reminiscence participants suffer from medium of high intensity dementia, one session may not last more than 30 minutes, as these patients have diminished attention capacities. At sessions lasting more than 2 hours it is advisable to have a break at the middle of the session, time during which participants may be served with coffee, tea, soft drinks, cookies, etc. At sessions lasting less than an hour, these snacks will be served at the end of the meeting. Such snack breaks may often be used as a mean to break the ice and start an informal, less tensioned communication.

    Recruiting appropriate staff that will attend reminiscence meetings is no problem in geriatric or social assistance institutions. In social services institutions, Reminiscence Centers or elderly people clubs, appealing to potential beneficiaries depends on the publicity made in favor of these activities.


    Choosing the appropriate locations where reminiscence activities are to be held is a very important issue in order to obtain best results possible. These are recommended to be specially arranged and equipped rooms, decorated with objects belonging to the past (who are very important in order to stimulate as many memories as possible from the past of the participants). Also, it is compulsory to encourage participants to bring various objects from home that can help them better depict and narrate their memories (like pictures, albums, books); at the end of the session, these objects will be given back to their owners. A room with proper sound isolation would make for an excellent setting, as this helps patients concentrate and avoid distraction. The chairs should be placed in a way that ensures that all participants can properly see and hear one another (circular, if possible).. At times it is recommended to change the setting and observe meanwhile the feedback of the participants. The monitor of the reminiscence group must ensure that no interruption of a speaker will happen during his or her talk.

    The group monitor must ensure he/she has the necessary time to monitor and evaluate techniques used during of every session, at it’s end, as well as for planning the next meeting. The monitor should hold records of every session and have information about:
    - The number of participants at each session
    - Discussed topics
    - Types of stimulation used
    - Comments on the evolution of the session
    - Active or passive involvement degree of every participant
    - Methods used to manage and solve tensions that occurred during the session..

    Also, a good monitor should:
    - Determine the topics to be tackled during the next session
    - Determine what objects will be needed, in order to ask participants to bring these from home
    - Let everyone in the group know about the topics of the coming meeting and the objects they need to bring along
    - Recurrently evaluate and observe evolutions of every individual in the group
    - Let each participant know about his observations concerning each member of the group and its involvement degree.











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