Remembering Dementia: 15 Considerations for your Loved One


Reminiscence is the act of remembering past events. How valuable is reminiscence?

The value of reminiscence was nicely described in a 1995 book by Woods & McKeirnan, The Art and Science of Reminiscing: Theory, Research, Methods, and Applications. In 2004, Faith Gibson popularized the notion of reminiscence in clinical care with her book, The Past in the Present.

Used extensively for patients with dementia, reminiscence is used as a psychosocial method to provide comfort, engagement, brain activity and positively changed behavior. It is just plain good for your memory and you! This is so true that for the last 20 years or more, reminiscence has been formally integrated into the health care system.


Perhaps the field of dementia wins the prize for tabulating specific reminiscing activities that improve Quality of Life (QoL): reminiscing over old photographs, taped shows or objects.

Reminiscing with your elder at home may allow a family or caregiver to optimize their loved one’s QoL. Perhaps the elder can avoid moving into a nursing home for many more years.

It’s all about QoL.

15 Considerations to Aid Quality of Life in your Loved One with Dementia:

  1. Love and socializing: Your elder needs to interact with people in the home.
  2. A schedule. Timing of sunrise and sunset are particularly important to establish and maintain a day-and-night cycle. Keep lights on during the day, and lights off at night. This is also a good guide for anyone with depression. dementiapuzzleaqua
  3. Light therapy. Along the lines of keeping day-and-night cycles, especially in climates where people get little sun during the winter: add lights during the day.
  4. Avoid loud sounds. Elders with dementia do not like to be scared from loud noises (neither does anyone, really).
  5. Avoid bath water that it is too hot or too cold.
  6. Fall Prevention. Remove obstacles on flooring like carpets with frayed edges. Never allow your elder to climb a ladder and ensure that stairways have handrails and are free from dust and objects. That’s a good rule for fire safety, too.
  7. Therapy. Physical exercise, social games, and such activities as yoga add to social and physical health.
  8. dementiawomenFrequent bathroom breaks. Regular restroom breaks after meals or before bedtime can be established and maintained to help when your elder becomes incontinent.
  9. Increase the appetite. Baking cookies or making popcorn keeps the appetite stimulated for better health.
  10. Essential oil aromatherapy. Helps improve mood and makes one feel better.

11. Music. Music leads to reminiscence, laughter and fondness, improving mood. Let your elder listen to music of her choice.

reminiscencecherishyesteray12. Reminiscence. Let your elder look at old photographs, and pictures of family and friends to maintain familiarity and memory; this is also sure to bring a smile.

13. Nutrition. An anti-inflammatory meal plan (i.e., immunonutrition) would include such things as papaya, watermelon, blueberries and be low in processed foods. Spices like curcumin may exert beneficial effects on dementia.
14.  Supplements. Ketone and multivitamin supplements may be considered, after talking with your doctor.

15. Pharmaceuticals. Your doctor may prescribe medications for dementia; these include: rivastigmine, galantamine, donepezil, memantine, donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and memantine.

BONUS: Many long-term care facilities have a small section with a baby crib, blankets and a rocking chair for elders to remember holding and having a baby.

Ellingford, et al. espouse doll therapy, as their 2007 Nursing Times publication showed improvement in patients with dementia given doll therapy – they had fewer aggression episodes, decreased negative behavior and increased positive behavior.

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Resources:        Caregiver Prof

Alzheimer’s Association

Resources in Aging and Elder Care

Stanford Dementia and Caregiving

Stanford Ethnogeriatrics

Stanford/VA Alzheimer’s Center

2 thoughts on “Remembering Dementia: 15 Considerations for your Loved One

Add yours

  1. I could do with a tin hat at the moment and ear protectors as my wife accuses me of stealing her house and keeping her imprisoned. Things change so rapidly with vascular dementia: hero to zero within minutes!


    1. When my Dad went through his frustrations, I remember thinking that I did not know who had it worse: the patient who suffers from confusion and frustrations, or the loved one? I’m sorry the pain goes both ways but check in often if you’d like. Best to you and God bless your heart.


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