When a patient experiences a loss in cognitive functioning, the need to connect with something “familiar” is real. Haven Behavioral Hospital of Eastern Pennsylvania assists this process through reminiscence and other therapies. These therapies have been shown not only to stimulate memories, but also to reduce anxiety.
Reminiscence therapy, in a group setting, may include watching age-appropriate movies and talking about long-ago life experiences. Long-term memory is often the last to go, so these discussions can bring comfort and peace. Therapy may also include sensory stimulation, incorporating smells, textures and sounds, such as music from a certain era. Reminiscence therapy is particularly common in care for those with dementia, but may have positive results for all older adults
The National Institutes of Health reviewed a handful of reminiscence therapy trials, and found gains in cognition, mood and general behavioral function. But there were other benefits, too: Reminiscence therapy helps reduce caregiver strain, as well as allows staff to better know and understand their patients.
At Haven, our desire is always to seek better understanding of our patients and the therapies that can help them. To that end, the stories of a first date or favorite family vacation have their place right alongside efforts to improve exercise and nutrition, reduce stress and better manage medications.