What is Reminiscence?
Reminiscence is about recalling past events and memories and choosing to share them with others.
A Reminiscence worker will carry out a reminiscence session, bringing a selection of items from the past. These may be on a certain theme such as 'Washday' or from a certain era for example 'The 1950's'.
These items will be 'multi-sensory', using a range of visual items such as photos but also items you can smell and taste as well as sounds and items to feel and touch.
This is particularly important if there are individuals with sensory impairments in the group.
A Reminiscence Worker will also encourage movement e.g. participants might simulate building a sandcastle, working a mangle, waving a flag or rolling pastry.
A range of creative activities may also be used, such as poetry, drama, art, or singing.
Participants in the group will be encouraged to share memories about the items.
Reminiscence workers are experienced in working with people with communication difficulties and participants will be encouraged to communicate in any way they feel comfortable with. Participants exercise choice every step of the way and may at any time choose not to participate, preferring to listen to others or may leave the group.
Reminiscence is NOT a history lesson or lecture given by the reminiscence worker, it is purely about the memories of the participants. Reminiscence is not a counselling session nor an attempt to pry into individual's private lives and extricate painful, upsetting or embarrassing memories.
Who is it for?
Anyone can reminisce at any age and we all do it sometimes although we don't think about it.
Reminiscence sessions are for everyone to enjoy and can lead participants to get to know each other better and find things in common and discuss differences in life experiences
Older people in hospital, care homes and day centres can benefit greatly from reminiscence sessions. Reminiscence work can benefit people with dementia or brain injuries who have difficulty with their short term memory, as it builds on their long term memory skills, raising their confidence and pride in recounting their memories to others.
How does it benefit people?
- It is a fun, sociable activity.
- It helps to build an individual's confidence and self esteem.
- It encourages people to communicate with each other and form friendships, reducing feelings of isolation.
- If the person has a carer, it encourages the staff/carers to see the person as an individual rather than a 'patient'.
- It leads to participants feeling valued, understood and empowered
- It stimulates all the senses-taste, smell, touch, hearing, vision and allows those with sensory impairments to participate.
- Encourages choice
- It helps those with short term memory loss to focus on long term memories which they remember well.
- It helps to relieve stress and anxiety
- It helps participants to see each other in a different light, to feel a connection, to build empathy and trust and to build a community.
- It can be a spiritual experience to help a person to think about who they are, their place in the world and to put their life in order.
- There may be health benefits for individuals, for example reduced blood pressure, relief of constipation.
- It can bring out pent up emotions, for example, crying, laughing, shouting, singing in a safe space.
For more information about Reminiscence see the range of books by the acclaimed Norfolk Reminiscence expert Sarah Housden :
Sarah's latest book is
'Reminiscence with People with Learning Difficulties' 2010 published by Norwich Living History Group.
See also 'The Happy Memories Book' by Angela Bishop (2012) on my 'Products' page.