Reminiscence is a free-flowing process of thinking or talking about our experiences in order to reflect on and recapture significant events in our lifetime. Each one of us is part of a rich history that needs to be shared and preserved. The stories we tell about our lives are also important sources of self-identity and enable us to explore and relate our past to the present.

Studies have shown that Reminiscence as a therapy can:

  • Improve communication 
  • Improve well being 
  • Improve self-care 
  • Improve mood 
  • Provide an enjoyable social activity 
  • Improve intellectual functioning (in some cases) 

Research has also shown that older people with symptoms of depression who participate in reminiscence report better self-esteem and are more positive about their social relations. They also tend to have a more favorable view of the past and are more optimistic about the future. Reminiscence can also help us to establish realistic goals and come to terms with life's disappointments and limits, while taking pleasure and pride in recalling our accomplishments.

Through remembering the past can we can bring a new awareness to the present. Memories can be explored in many creative ways that place value on a person’s unique life experience. Triggers are often used to evoke a memory and the best triggers are those that stimulate our five senses: taste (grandmother’s recipes), smell (aroma of fresh baked bread), touch (textures), sound (music) and sight (photographs). 

Reminiscence themes and activities can provide opportunities for social interaction around shared experiences. Examples of themes may include: the childhood home and family, school days, games/activities, courtship and marriage, jobs, war years, holiday celebrations and festivals.

Creative memory-making brings memories back to life and can be achieved in a number of ways. Some of the most effective ideas are: 

  • photo albums/collages, scrapbooks 
  • art forms (drawing, painting or using clay can be a replacement for words) 
  • historical items and significant objects (toys, antiques, or clothing) 
  • drama (acting out short scenes that invite the role playing of past experiences) 
  • vocal and instrumental music (can lead to memory recall) 
  • life story work (recorded oral histories about childhood and early life or autobiographies) 
  • memory boxes (a three-dimensional box that displays personal items to signify one’s life and highlight memories) 

All of these creations can generate conversations, valuable recollections and outcomes for the family and the generations that follow.

As you can see there are many benefits to reminiscence which is why we have created dedicated areas in our community hub's and opportunities for older adults to participate in reminiscence activities such as cinema nights and themed sensory days.  It is our aim to create an environment where isolated older residents can to come together to socialise, share life experiences and learn new