When designing a memory care unit in a long-term care facility, there are many considerations to make. One way to use design to help with memory care is through working with your designer to choose design elements that promote Reminiscence Therapy. Reminiscence Therapy promotes the sharing of memories from the resident’s past using photos, stories, or other objects that tap into their memories. It is important for caregivers to understand a resident’s personal story, including their family, hobbies, occupation, and the area where they were raised. Using these items to promote reminiscing may help trigger memories from the past.
Reminiscence Therapy is different than asking a resident to simply ‘remember’ something from the past. Asking them to remember something can create feelings of anxiety, pressure, and stress for the resident.
Below are some examples of how you can use Reminiscence Therapy to help a resident recall memories from the past.
Sing along to some of the resident’s favorite songs or have them participate in a group singalong. The use of simple instruments such as drums, shakers, or tambourines can be used to help them feel engaged.
Sharing and discussing photos of historical events, past presidents, family members, and hobbies can recapture emotions. Pictures of tasteful food, gardens, shiny cars, sporting events, or even clothing catalogues can help start up a conversation. Artwork can help trigger these memories and help promote conversation.
By creating scented cards or jars using spices or objects found in nature, you can help trigger memories.
Touch can remind a resident of activities they were involved in during their earlier years. If a resident liked to draw, just holding a paintbrush and feeling it in their hands can help curate memories. Squeezing yarn, fabric, or chalk can help evoke memories from the past.