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



Advantages for beneficiaries

In the following part we’ll try to show some of the arguments that speak in favor of this technique:

1. First of all, reminiscence encourages social interactions by helping develop new social relationships, thus reducing, for example, the isolation of dementia suffering individuals and encouraging them to communicate with other individuals suffering from the same disease. Talking about the past is a way of giving new meaning to the present. People participating in reminiscence stimulating meetings share personal experiences and memories in their own way, without being forced to or critiqued about it. As participants start knowing and trusting one another, each individual will approach more personal memories and subjects from his/her own life. By sharing (and listening to) highly emotional, positive and negative, experiences, each participant learns to accept the others and thus helps consolidate new social relationships. Each and every participant in a reminiscence group should be seen (and should feel like) as having a valuable potential of becoming a useful resource or stimulation for helping and training others, being at the same time a beneficiary of the actions and stimulation of other participants. So, each participant gets to be a provider and a receiver at the same time.

2. Reminiscence activities help value each individual. Modern society casts out elderly people and makes them feel left outside. People suffering from dementia are even less valorized, this because, in early stages of the disease, they undergo a process of self-isolation in order to hide their deficiencies. Through reminiscence techniques we try to challenge them to start talking about their past, show them that what they have to say is interesting and help, thus, dementia affected people to regain self esteem and confidence.

3. Reminiscence activities help the „life review” process. As a person grows into age, he/ she starts living more in the past than in the present and enjoys talking about past experiences. Through reminiscence stimulation we can help develop the „life review” process and beneficiaries can leave the group with a feeling of content and fulfillment, as they have managed to share (even if not very precise) certain very important events of their lives that have a substantial emotional charge for them.

4. Reminiscence activities build up connections and bridges between the past, the present and the future. Revealing the past of an individual, just as it comes out following reminiscence stimulation techniques, helps gain a better understanding on certain present conducts and, at the same time, makes us better understand future evolutions of various patients.

5.Reminiscence techniques reduce the distance between caretaker and the dementia affected individual, as it has shown to be an effective instrument for improving communication and empathic communication. Almost every social institution, including the family, attributes a certain role to every individual, as well as specific functional task. In hospitals, recovery or residential centers, the staff is always invested with more power than the beneficiaries. No matter if we talk about family or care institutions, the situation of dementia affected people is quite the same: as the individual goes through the initial stages of dementia, he/she realizes that he/she is less and less involved in various minimal daily activities and is every day less required to do anything. By means of reminiscence activities, dementia affected patients, as well as their formal or informal attendants, have the chance to rebuild are regain meaning for their attributions and capacities as normal individuals, who should be accepted just as they are, with their abilities and disabilities. Group sessions can lead people into starting to trust one another and be less concerned about position, power or control, social usage that isn’t part of the reminiscence activities.

6. Reminiscence activities help better evaluate a dementia-affected patient and also bring up necessary information for setting up an individualized care plan. Considering dementia affected person only as he/she is today, in the present, is just like looking at only a corner of a picture, instead of the whole album. It just isn’t fair and right to appreciate only present capacities, as this doesn’t show the whole picture, doesn’t give a grasp on what that individual has been, done, managed to do in life, liked to do, etc. Personal history can offer valuable information about what that individual is still able to do or what could interest him/her, thus giving that person a second chance. Reminiscence activities help us find out more about the personal history of the participants, information that can be extremely useful for the individual care program. It is even vital to include these in the individualized care program, as past and also present information about the individual can lead to better and more complex results of the care process.

7. Reminiscence activities can lead to a change in the group’s hierarchy. It is said that people who lived certain events that entered history are the best possible history teachers. Elderly people represent valuable information resources about past historical events and, if encouraged and challenged, are generally willing and glad to share what they know and have experienced about those past events. Instead of being merely passive employees that attend dementia affected people, or just perform activities for them or in their places, we can –by means of reminiscence stimulation techniques- give these people the chance to be themselves in the highlights, become leading actors or play the paper of a teacher that offers valuable information. That is, allowing them to be in control. The others, participants and monitors, become, in a way, pupils that have many things to learn form their „teachers”. It is a method that simultaneously connects the dementia-affected person to long past ages and also builds a bridge between generations.

8. By means of reminiscence activities, the social and cultural heritage can also be preserved. Each time a person dies, a part of the cultural heritage of the nation dies with it. Sometimes we may have lost a valuable book, a best seller. If we learn to carefully listen to histories of the past, if we educate ourselves to remember and respect the past, we’ll them probably be able to turn the past into present and save at least a small part of the individual cultural heritage. Reminiscence techniques help record and preserve, on one hand, memories of ordinary people about their own lives, but also, in the other hand, we have the chance to keep and disseminate these items of cultural heritage.

9. By using reminiscence stimulation techniques on dementia suffering people we can help attract them into a pleasant, relaxing activity, with also brings them a great deal of satisfaction. By this we don’t mean that all reminiscence activities refer to positive or enjoyable events. There are memories of unpleasant, disturbing events, bearing a lot of negative emotional tension, which people don’t want to remember as it makes them go through a traumatizing experience all over again. Nevertheless, most beneficiaries of reminiscence stimulation techniques experience a strong satisfaction.

10. Through reminiscence stimulation techniques at dementia-affected patients, these can be attracted into a pleasant, relaxing and satisfying activity. It is obvious that not all memories brought back through reminiscence activities are pleasant or bear a positive emotional charge. There are memories that can bring up a strong negative emotional reaction or patients may refuse to remember certain traumatizing experiences. Nevertheless, most beneficiaries of reminiscence stimulation techniques experience a high sense of satisfaction and content when they are given the possibility to talk about things that happened a longtime ago. This is hw these people can go back in time and live past experiences all over again. It is in the benefit of the dementia affected individuals to focus on what they can do / talk about today, in the present, instead of bewailing what they cannot do or how unfortunate they are to be in such a condition. Talking about their lives, getting to build up social connections are important steps towards making these people feel (and be) useful, active and more connected to the present.

As a conclusion, we can argue that the benefits of reminiscence stimulation techniques like the ones mentioned above cannot be considered merely as simple reactions brought upon by a stimulus. It is a complex system of feedbacks and interactions that includes carefully choosing and organizing certain activities, creating the opportunity and proper context for social interactions and communication between these very special individuals that are the ones affected by dementia, on the basis of sharing to one another and with the group some personal experiences and memories. These, on their turn, play the important part of generating interest and attention and involving other participants. This whole system of stimuli, feedbacks and communication networks is based on mutual respect, understanding, tolerance and an open minded attitude towards dementia affected people.











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