The demographic tsunami of baby-boomers is breaking on our shores and will soon swamp the elder care industry. The flotsam left in the wake of this phenomenon is an exponential increase in cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
While there is no cure as yet, Reminiscence Therapy (RT) can offer both tangible and intangible benefits to the patient, their caregivers and family.
Reminiscence therapy is an intervention that has the advantages of being: non-pharmacologic, cost-effective, therapeutic, and social and is becoming an expected standard of care. RT is usually conducted in groups led by experienced staff. However, due to the ratio of care attendants, only a limited number of patients in a community can receive the benefit of this therapy.
For the patient, encouraging reminiscence can help increase their self-esteem and interpersonal communication skills. Being able to interact with others and share their memories, life lessons and values is the dignified role nature intends for our elders but the disease deprives them that honor. Anger and frustration often result with a cascading effect on themselves and those around them. Even though they may not recall what they had for breakfast, a moment from their earlier days can be recalled as if it just happened. The challenge is not in knowing who and where they are but discovering the ‘when’ they are in. Focusing on what they do remember is highly rewarding to everyone involved.
For the caregivers and family, Reminiscence Therapy provides a special window into the life and condition of their patient / loved one. The caregivers have an opportunity to know more particulars of the patient’s life and translate that knowledge into an increased level of personalized care. Engaging the family not only binds them closer on an intergenerational basis; they also can build a tangible legacy to benefit future generations.
While Reminiscence Therapy employs different mediums that assist the act of remembering: familiar foods, scents, and music, one of the most productive and rewarding memory triggers are photos representing defining moments in the patient’s life.
The challenge: to find a way to provide this therapy for patients anytime or anywhere requires the development of a networked reminiscence therapy system that engages others, individually in the process. These others can and should include family members but also private duty caregivers and even community volunteers.
In a care facility, or in a professional Home Care setting, the co-operation and inclusion of relatives and friends enhances the reminiscence time. They may be able to provide photos or remember incidents in the loved one’s life that can increase the pleasure and engage a patient’s attention. Friends and relatives can also be called on to provide valuable insight on subjects that the patient may find distressing or upsetting. By taking a ‘team’ approach care providers can also bring distant relatives into the picture and help bridge the gap and the guilt they feel.
Building a Legacy is simply a way to organize memories and mementos, photographs, stories, genealogy, significant documents, etc. Creating and completing such a portfolio can be an invaluable life review, especially as an activity for people in earlier stages of a progressive cognitive disorder. Later it can be used over and over again to: stimulate reminiscences, be used as an effective tool to mitigate trauma associated with relocation and transition into a new community, and later as a tool to aid in the grieving process while providing a priceless gift to future generations.
The technology that enables this therapeutic expansion has not existed until just recently. Smartphones and wireless tablets powered by specifically designed applications, supported by cloud archiving and social networking technology, have opened the door to amazing opportunities.
The “Legacy Stories Reminiscence Program” (LSRP) represents a technologically comprehensive solution specifically designed as a high perceived value-add service for elder care and memory care professionals. The LSRP utilizes the latest in multi-media, cloud based, encrypted archiving combined with a very discriminating social networking architecture. Additionally, the program’s universal smart-phone and tablet app provides the caregivers and family an interactive process of capturing and archiving the reminiscence in both image and voice, transforming it into a meaningful, durable and shareable product. The program also includes a comprehensive training platform for caregivers along with an unparalleled community outreach aspect. The LSRP requires virtually no administrative support to establish or maintain the program. And best of all, there is no cost to families to attain the benefits of the Reminiscence Program.
For Elder Care Professionals to learn more: https://www.legacystories.org/memory-care
For Families to get started: https://www.legacystories.org/about/legacy-stories-program