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.
Traditional reminiscence therapy benefits
Reminiscence therapy history goes back decades to the 1960s, with roots that are largely clinical. Today, however, this modality for coping with cognitive decline has expanded beyond just institutions and into homes.
With family members, friends, loved ones and in-home caregivers acting as moderators for the therapy, there’s a need to understand how these individuals benefit from face-to-face interaction with diseases as harsh as Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Some simple caregiver benefits of reminiscence therapy for dementia include:
- Feeling of goodwill and responsibility. Watching a loved one succumb to a disease is heartbreaking and straining on those who feel like they need to help in some way but can’t. Because anyone can deliver RT, it’s possible for these concerned individuals to do their part, promoting a sense of responsibility and fostering inner peace.
- Renewed emotional connections. Sitting down with an elderly loved one for RT is a shared experience that helps both parties reflect and reminisce. Often, there’s a shared connection through the stimuli, helping caregivers and individuals bond in a way that can promote better emotional health.
- Personal sense of understanding. Many family members feel disconnected from their loved one’s diagnosis. They understand the nature of the disease but may not realize how it manifests. Coming face-to-face with it can help contextualize it and help them understand the situation better, especially when speaking with a medical professional.
In other reminiscence therapy applications—namely for treating stroke victims—there’s evidence that points to caregivers experiencing their own set of benefits, chiefly in the form of emotional maintenance. In the same way that RT is a cognitive workout for elderly individuals, it can be a therapeutic exercise for moderators.
Additional benefits through ReminX
Technological innovations have unlocked even more benefits when it comes to RT. ReminX now offers reminiscence therapy on a computer tablet, enabling caregivers to digitally deliver personalized therapy to a loved one from a remote location. This technology has also unlocked caregiver benefits in other ways:
- Geographic constraints are lifted. With a multimedia player acting as the central mode of RT delivery, caregivers no longer have to be in proximity to their loved one to help them. Family members living across the city, state or country who feel guilty about not being able to physically spend time with their loved one can substitute that physical interaction for time spent creating an RT program that’s personal, unique and meaningful that can include their own audio narration or messages.
- Less time-intensive. Sitting down with a person living with dementia and going through traditional reminiscence therapy techniques can be extremely time consuming and repetitive. With ReminX, it’s quick and easy to create a multimedia RT program at the convenience of the caregiver and set it up for someone to use. This significantly reduces the time commitment and repetitive nature of the therapy.
- Widespread family involvement. Even those who have been unable to engage directly with their loved one now have the ability to interact thanks to the digital delivery system of ReminX. It’s easier than ever to reach out to these family members to ask them to source images, video, and audio narration and to receive updates on their loved one. Widespread family involvement helps each person feel like they’re doing their part.
These technologically-enabled advantages to the caregiver are expected to translate directly into benefits to the senior by making them feel more connected to their loved ones, providing higher quantity and quality of reminiscence content, and giving them the ability to get reminiscence therapy on a daily basis and at their own convenience.
Whether delivered at home or institutionally, RT may have benefits for both the individual living with dementia and the moderator. Someone with dementia has the potential to receive mental stimulation that boosts cognition, while caregivers—family members, friends and loved ones—reap the emotional solace that comes with helping a person they care about.
And, as technological advances like ReminX help make RT delivery methods more accessible and simple, caregivers may find it easier to unlock these benefits as they strive to ensure the best quality of life for the ones they care about. Click here to learn more about ReminX.