Reminiscence Therapy - Create a Memory Book using a Talking Photo Album
Reminiscing is an age-old pastime, but researchers are now discovering how much power this simple activity holds for people living with Dementia. For those with memory loss, reminiscing and recalling memories from their past is much less stressful than trying to remember specific details or facts. Someone might not be able to remember their son’s name, but through reminiscence therapy, a faded photo of his third birthday may inspire joy and bring back fond memories.
Talking Photo Albums are more than a basic memory book because they engage a secondary sense. Studies show that reminiscence therapy is most effective when people are able to engage multiple senses. Smell a vintage perfume, snack on their favourite childhood sweets, and flip through their life photos while the talking photo album plays a custom recording for each page. Music in particular is very powerful, it can take your mind back to a very specific moment in time.
Reminiscence Therapy is a rewarding and stimulating exercise that carers, family, friends and care home residents can all facilitate. The practice is simple and very effective:
a.) Build a memory box or photo album that is filled with relevant, meaningful imagery tied to long-term memories.
b.) Sit with them and offer kind, patient support while they reminisce and share stories.
Here are 7 tips to make the most of your reminiscence therapy time and help tell a life story, even in the midst of memory loss. Enjoy the creation process and review the contents regularly as more memories are shared:
1.) Draw Inspiration. As a carer, it can often be difficult to build a memory box for a resident who has progressed Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Ask family members and friends to take part in the process and share their memorabilia or information about the most joyful periods of their life. In addition to building a more accurate memory book for reminiscing, this can also create a positive opportunity for adult children to reminisce and reconnect with aging loved ones.
2.) Take Your Time. Reminiscing is rarely instantaneous, and memories can be sparked in various ways during different occasions. Reminiscence therapy should be seen as an ongoing hobby with benefits throughout the creation process and long after the Book is produced.
3.) Add Tangibles. The Talking Photo Album adds auditory support for each page, on which you can easily record with voices of family members, sound effects or music. Add another layer to the experience by inviting your companion to hold and touch a physical piece of memorabilia, like their wedding tiara while they reminisce over a wedding photo and hear the song of their first dance play out through the pages.
4.) Focus on Vivid Experiences. For those living with Dementia, some memories and periods of life linger more vividly than others. Consider making a collection of smaller memory books that focus exclusively on a specific time in their life that is easiest to recall, like their work, a specific hobby, travel, or a historical event.
5.) Reinforce Foundational Memories. As memory loss continues to progress, many carers find that reminiscence therapy can transition well for self-care routines. By mixing prompt cards into a memory book surrounded by similar photographs from their past, they may be able to hold onto foundational memories, like their favorite foods, names of family visitors, daily habits, and dressing or hygiene routines.
6.) Start Conversations and Boost Morale. A person’s life story provides a background for conversation and can also offer comfort in moments of insecurity. A Memory Book is a great way for staff in a care home to really get to know their residents. The residents can also swap books and learn more about each other which will lead to engaging interaction and enjoyable conversations. Recalling positive memories can make everyone feel happy, turning a ‘bad day’ into a ‘good day’ – or even a good week!
7.) Inspirations to create a unique Memory Book. Here is a list of topics you may wish to include…
Photographs of family members, friends, pets, homes, schools, colleges, careers, clubs, sports, hobbies, holidays and special/historic events. Record their favourite music, including soundtracks from TV and films. Adding voice messages and sound effects will enhance the photographs and bring memories back to life. Remember that the contents of a Memory Book should evolve as conversations begin to flow and the precious memories are shared!