by Mary Ann Drummond
If someone told you there was a way to lower your blood pressure, improve your heart rate, increase your serotonin levels, and do it all without medication, drugs, or exercise, you would likely say, “Tell me more!” Reminisce therapy does all of this. When we visit our pleasant life experiences optimism and self esteem are also improved.
Sentences that begin with “Do you remember the time when we…” are often followed with laughter and warm feelings in the heart and soul. The power of golden memories can open a drawbridge of time, allowing safe passage to a land filled with butterflies, green trees, blue birds and autumn leaves. In our busy lives we often forget to indulge ourselves in the simple pleasure of remembering our best from yesterday.
The best thing about reminiscence therapy is that it is so easy to do! Try finding a quiet spot and think about a moment in time you never want to forget. As you focus on your special memory, close your eyes and try experiencing everything that occurred during the time your special moment occurred. Where were you? Who was with you? Were there any special smells or sounds associated with your memory? What time of year was it? The more details you can capture as you close your eyes and try to re-imagine the moment, the more real the moment will become. Spend at least 60 seconds visiting your special moment in time.
For those who took the time to try the previous recommendation, you likely found you rediscovered a precious memory that had been locked away, waiting patiently to be re-discovered. You may also have found as many do that visiting this treasure brought a smile to your face and an overall sense of well being that wasn’t there before. This is the value of reminiscing.
When dementia is present, the human brain becomes a complicated storage unit, keeping memories tucked away until the right “key” unlocks them. Sometimes props such as old photos, music, and personal recordings may be necessary to help with successful reminiscing therapy. There are many testimonials of how a special song from the past has brought smiles and comfort to the person with dementia in the present.
An important first step for any one who wants to begin to experience the benefits of reminiscing therapy is to start a journal, recording each of your favorite memories when you find the time to do so. You don’t have to be good at writing to begin a journal. You only need to be good at writing down what you remember. After you have a collection of several memories written down, you will be amazed at how wonderful it feels to be able to sit in your favorite chair after a long day, put on your favorite comfy clothes, and read through your own reflections. Some say it’s better than a box of chocolates!