For those living with dementia there may be times when it becomes increasingly more difficult to recall memories, especially as the dementia journey progresses. There are, however, many different activities which can help to spark memories, which in turn can help to boost mood and improve well-being.
Here we will cover just five fantastic activities which when used in the right settings, may help to bring back memories in those living with dementia.
Our memories are closely linked to our senses; the taste of a favorite meal, the smell of a familiar perfume or even the sound of a familiar song, can all bring memories flooding back. A great way to encourage these memories, is to create a sensory box. The box can include a variety of things which are meaningful to the person living with dementia, along with everyday objects which will help to assist in communication and reminiscence.
Items such as a loved one’s perfume, family photographs, a CD of a favorite song can all be stored in the box and revisited time and again. It can be beneficial to ask gentle questions surrounding each item to help encourage reminiscence. There are many other suitable care home activities from Active Minds which can help encourage reminiscence using the senses.
The Silver Screen
Watching a well-known film can really help to bring about memories of the past. Whether your loved one watches it in a small group or as part of a care home activity which involves a larger group, films have been shown to help spark memories and encourage socialization.
Asking questions surrounding the film and letting the person with dementia lead in storytelling of memories surrounding that time can be highly beneficial, for not only reminiscence but also reducing loneliness and improving mood.
Meaningful photographs can be highly beneficial to utilize as part of reminiscence focused activities. Choose images which include the person living with dementia’s family, favorite places or even cut out photos from magazines which may include familiar things to that person.
Once you have a range of familiar images for the person to look through, sit down in a comfortable environment, without distraction or loud noises, and let them look through each image in their own time. Spark conversations surrounding each photo by asking gentle questions. This can be a great activity to encourage recognizing people and places, along with encouraging memories surrounding those times.
Much as our other senses play a part in our memories, so does taste. A familiar or favourite meal can spark memories surrounding a particular time. For example, if the person always had fish and chips on a seaside holiday, eating this food again may help to spark memories surrounding those times. Additionally, the smell of baking may help to bring back memories of home life and times surrounded by family.
The cooking process itself can also be a great activity for someone living with dementia, the acts of kneading bread or stirring mixtures can be relaxing and remind them of times cooking in the past.
Visiting certain locations with someone living with dementia can help to spark memories of times spent in that place. Whether this is a certain park where they used to play as a child, seeing their childhood home, visiting a favourite restaurant or museum; wherever the place, if it means something to the person it can really help encourage reminiscence.
Spend time in that place relaxing and see the look of recognition on the persons face as the memories are sparked.
There are many different activities which can help to encourage memories for someone living with dementia and just some are featured here. Each of these activities also provide numerous other benefits, including encouraging socialization and in turn reducing loneliness, boosting mood and improving well being.
Having calm and gentle conversations with someone living with dementia can really help to bring out stories of the past, whether you use prompts such as the ones above or simply listen to what they have to say, each activity can be wonderful for overall well being and sparking memories.