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Reminiscence Therapy Can Sooth Anxiety, Depression and Emotional Distress

Most people understand Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as a failure of the brain’s capacity to recall details and memories. What’s often forgotten, however, are all of the additional mental health issues that arise alongside slipping details.

How would you feel if you woke up one day and couldn’t remember what city you lived in? What would you do if someone unfamiliar to you struck up a conversation and told you details about yourself that a stranger shouldn’t know? These prospects are terrifying for someone of sound mind, yet reality for someone living with a neurocognitive disorder.

Anxiety, depression and overall emotional distress are a daily part of living with dementia. They’re bred by confusion and uncertainty, resulting from situations like the ones mentioned above. And, without addressing these emotional burdens, the quality of life of an individual living in cognitive decline can rapidly sink.

The Power of Multimedia Reminiscence Therapy

Reminiscence therapy (RT) has proved promising as a way to help combat the social isolation effects of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In fact, group RT is the only intervention that was shown to be effective in reducing loneliness in seniors in a recent systematic review of more than 400 studies of social isolation.

RT can be immersive. Each different reminiscence medium offers another opportunity to trigger memories, which can be helpful in the process of strengthening cognition and limiting social isolation. This multi-pronged approach may provide measurable support for loved ones when they face cognitive decline.

However, traditional reminiscence therapy is a labor-intensive process. This often involves a caregiver organizing an entire set of information for each session and putting in a lot of time and energy to guide the therapy. Thankfully, advances in technology are making RT a more convenient experience.

Caregiver Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy

There’s a tendency to look exclusively at the benefits to the patient when it comes to clinical therapies. And rightfully so in most cases! The patient is the one suffering duress, therefore the treatment should be tailored around their unique and specific needs, to drive beneficial outcomes for their health and wellbeing.

In the case of reminiscence therapy (RT), however, there’s also a unique subset of benefits for caregivers themselves. When you consider the emotional turmoil that diseases like Alzheimer’s and other related dementias cause within families, the wellbeing and emotional health of caregivers (often family members) becomes vital to consider. Watching someone you love and respect suffer sharp cognitive decline exacts its own toll.

When considering the application of reminiscence therapy, it’s vital to recognize its potential for positive outcomes in both individuals in cognitive decline and the caregivers delivering it. Reminiscence therapy for grief may have benefits for both.