Reminiscence Therapy and Activities for Seniors with Dementia
WHAT ARE REMINISCENCE THERAPY SERVICES?
Reminiscence is, put simply, the therapeutic practice of exploring memories.
It can have benefits for all of us, especially as we grow older, because sharing our memories helps us feel connected, understood, and affirmed. It can also offer a sense of closure or fulfillment about our lives.
Reminiscence therapy can be beneficial to the mental and emotional well-being of any elderly person, especially those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and it can even lead to physical-health benefits like lower blood pressure (due to lowered anxiety) and better sleep.
The field was pioneered by George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers. It is a powerful way to help seniors cope with their conditions by reducing agitation and boosting happiness.
HOW DOES REMINISCENCE THERAPY WORK?
As memory loss occurs, typically the first memories to be affected are more recent ones. Long-term memories — particularly those from a person’s formative years (their teens and twenties) — are the ones that stay with us the longest.
As seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia go through day-to-day life, their memories frequently fail them, usually leading to frustration or confusion. So by visiting memories that are strong and vibrant, reminiscence therapy offers feelings of joy and relief. Even sharing sad or difficult memories can provide a sense of cathartic release or closure.
In this reminiscent space, seniors tend to feel content, valued, at peace, and at home.
HOW IS REMINISCENCE THERAPY PERFORMED?
Our reminiscence therapy services use all five senses to engage memories from the past, especially a person’s teenage and young adult years. For today’s seniors, these years took place in the 1950s and early 1960s, so at Town Square at the Jersey Shore, our entire facility is built to resemble that era.
Through media such as music, photographs, films, food, and the overall environment, we help our members access important memories. We use those memories as a springboard for conversations, where our members are invited to share stories from their lives.
Reminiscence therapy does not have to stand alone. It is often done in conjunction with other therapeutic activities, like exercise, art, or music.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF REMINISCENCE THERAPY FOR OLDER ADULTS WITH DEMENTIA?
Again, it’s important to note that reminiscence therapy has not been proven to reverse or slow the onset of memory loss itself.
However, it has been shown to improve behaviors and cognitive function in seniors, insofar as our emotional well-being is tied to our brain’s ability to perform well. For example, chronic stress can diminish healthy cognitive function (at any age), so by alleviating stress through reminiscence therapy services, seniors can improve their happiness along with their cognitive function. This leads to a better quality of life, and the reduced stress can even lead to improved blood pressure and better sleep, especially for those with memory loss.
HOW DO WE MAKE SURE OUR REMINISCENCE ACTIVITIES ARE SUCCESSFUL?
At Town Square at the Jersey Shore, we start by understanding the individual needs of all our members. With this understanding gathered, we can organize reminiscing groups, then plan reminiscence activities for each group. This ensures that seniors are with peers and engaged in activities that best match their needs.
In each activity, sensory experiences are used to invoke important memories and to improve our members’ wellbeing. Whether it’s music, a movie, a craft, a game, or a meal — our members engage with the experience and then are invited to share their related memories. These open conversations allow seniors to express themselves, relieve anxieties, and connect with one another.
This is the heart of what we do every day at Town Square.
WHAT ARE THE REMINISCENCE ACTIVITIES OFFERED AT TOWN SQUARE AT THE JERSEY SHORE?
At Town Square at the Jersey Shore, our storefronts and activities are built around the culture of 1950s America, including music, movies and tv shows, food, cars, and more. Every storefront is a themed activity space with its own schedule of reminiscence activities and programs.
12 Types of Gentle Reminiscence Activities, at our Storefronts:
If you’re interested in reminiscence therapy, these may spark ideas for how you can design your own reminiscence activities at home. And of course, you and your loved one are always welcome to join us at our location in Brick, NJ.
Reminisce with friends during community activities in Glenner Park
At the heart of reminiscence therapy is social interaction — the sharing of stories and experiences based in our most important memories. In Glenner Park (named for memory care pioneer George G. Glenner), our community engages in a variety of events, including live performances that harken back to our members’ early lives. One of our other favorite uses for Glenner Park is for pet visits and pet therapy. After all, what’s better than a dog walking in the park? These events give our members a space to gather as a community, converse, and reminisce.
Revisit the golden age of Hollywood at the Starlite Theater
Nothing captures a time period like a motion picture. The imagery, music, and culture of a classic movie can remind seniors of the world where the story takes place, or it can spark memories of when they first saw that movie with family and friends. In our Starlite Theater, we screen classic films, then invite our members to share openly about their related memories. Our members also enjoy Skits for Seniors in the theater. Using play scripts, some of our members do the play reading while other members enjoy being the audience and critics.
Say hello to Town Square’s team at our City Hall
To promote the healthiest environment for reminiscing, it’s important to have: 1) a team of experts to facilitate activities and 2) an open and inviting atmosphere. Our City Hall serves as the headquarters for our onsite team, where they plan our daily activities. With our Heroes Wall of Honor as a backdrop, It’s the perfect meeting place for our Veterans’ Club and the site of other occasional events.
Indulge in a classic atmosphere at Rosie’s Diner
Sights, tastes, smells, sounds, and touch all play an important role in evoking memories. Tastes and smells in particular have strong connections with our memories and related emotions. At Rosie’s Diner, we serve the foods that many of our members enjoyed in the 1950s and ’60s. The setting, complete with the music, decor, and style of the era, provides an open space for our community members to sit and enjoy a conversation. Rosie’s is the place where we make cookies, pies, and decorate cupcakes. It is the home of our members’ Cooking Club.
Experience individual reminiscence therapy when enjoying classic TV at the Little Blue House
There’s a special comfort in remembering a childhood home. Our Little Blue House is modeled after a typical living room from the 1950s. Here, we can put on the music or radio programs our members enjoyed during that era. It’s also a space for gentle reminiscence activities like looking at old photos or magazines or doing jigsaw puzzles. It’s also a wonderful atmosphere for needlework of all types. It’s also a great place for members to sit down and have a conversation with each other or with our staff.
Enjoy quality salon treatment at Guys and Dolls Salon
This is another environment where familiar sights, smells, and sounds can bring back fond memories — of getting a sharp hair cut or styling. And of course, the salon or barbershop is another great atmosphere where people can enjoy each other’s company. At Guys and Dolls Salon, our members can relax while they get a shave, manicure, hair styling, or a haircut while socializing and reminiscing with other members and our staff.
Talk about vintage cars, at Mike’s Garage
Another important piece of reminiscence therapy services is to use touchstones as springboards for stories and conversation. These can be photographs or physical objects, like the cars we grew up with. At Mike’s Garage, we feature an actual 1955 Oldsmobile as well as automotive accessories. Our members revel in talking about who taught them how to drive, the cars they owned, and the roads they traveled.
Engage in health and wellness services at the Town Square Health Club
Our physical health is one of the major areas of anyone’s overall well-being. It’s also tied to our mental and emotional health. When we’re physically fit, we have more energy, feel more alert, and are more independently mobile. At Town Square at the Jersey Shore, we offer health and wellness activities to enhance the benefits our members feel from reminiscence activities and to improve the overall vitality of our community. Our Health Club is outfitted with the latest equipment, with activities and group exercises appropriate for seniors of all ability levels.
Engage in games at our Recreation Center
Similar to learning new skills, playing mentally-stimulating games can help seniors keep their brains sharp. Town Square’s Recreation Center is a space where our members can come together and play games — like pool, card games, board games, and more — which are an exciting way to socialize and engage the brain. Our staff helps arrange, facilitate, and support game playing that our members enjoy and benefit from.
Enjoy arts and crafts activities at our Craft Corner
Crafts and arts are also gentle mentally stimulating activities. Crafts like crocheting, knitting, drawing, and painting are naturally relaxing and therapeutic. There are also emotional benefits in the creative self-expression of visual art. Reminiscence therapy services can be integrated into these activities, by having participants render images of their past from photographs or the classic cultural iconography of the time.
These creative endeavors offer a healthy sense of reward, relieve stress, and complement the reminiscence activities we offer at Town Square at the Jersey Shore.
Enjoy instrumental reminiscence activities at Music Memories
On its own, music can improve our mood and reduce stress, in turn helping us relax our bodies and feel happier throughout the day. Playing or listening to music in a group can be a fun and expressive way to socialize. And because of music’s emotional connection, our favorite songs.
At our Music Memories storefront, we explore the overlap between music therapy and reminiscence activities. Activities like “name that tune” directly evoke memories of the songs our members love. Group activities like drum circles tap into the social and therapeutic benefits of playing rhythm in a group. Simply listening to a favorite record can also be enjoyable for our members, giving them a space to relax and remember together.
Learn something new, at our Learning Center
Our brains’ abilities to learn stay with us throughout our entire lives. Mental stimulation and learning new skills has been linked to our abilities to stay sharp as we age. One of the key benefits of reminiscence therapy is an elevation of mood and a reduction in anxiety and stress, which can subsequently lead to better sleep and cognition.
That’s why, at Town Square’s Learning Center, we complement our reminiscing activities with opportunities for seniors to learn and exercise their brains. We use technologies old and new, from a classic classroom setting to proven, safe virtual reality experiences, to engage our members in robust learning activities. The Learning Center is also home to our Town Square Library, with a pleasing collection of books to spark memories of the past in genres of interest for all our members.
Experience The Joy Of Reminiscence At Town Square
Together, our storefronts, our 1950s theme, and our experienced staff create a vital and holistic environment for reminiscing.
We welcome you and your loved ones to join us at our social adult day care in Brick, NJ. For many families, it’s a superb option in adult day care — with high-quality programming, a more affordable cost than individual home care, and the ability to integrate our services with home care. In addition to daily exercise, our members also engage in active games on our bocce court. There we play bocce, horseshoes, bowling, putting on the green, cornhole, and ladderball.
By joining our community at Town Square the Jersey Shore, your loved one can remain living at home while spending the day well-cared-for, engaged in exciting activities, with the opportunity to socialize and reminisce with their peers.