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The Importance of Reminiscing for the Elderly

The Importance of Reminiscing for the Elderly

The importance of reminiscing for the elderly can’t be underestimated. It’s amazing how quickly life goes by for many of us. We gather experiences and memories along the way. But we often forget to take the time to reflect. We also fail to take the time to listen.

Sharing our Memories

Elderly people accessing aged care support services can often be alone and have a deal of time to ponder. Moments in time tend to spark memories. This could be a certain time of the year, such as Christmas time or ANZAC day.

I was once at an aged care facility during an ANZAC day service. Many of the residents were veterans or war widows, and ANZAC day particularly stirred up emotions for many of them.

There was a resident who suffered from Dementia, and she was typically very quiet. But this particular ANZAC day, she went off to her room after the ANZAC day service, and came back to where many residents and staff members were sharing a morning tea together. She had a photo album in hand.

The photo album wasn’t necessarily about the war or the ANZAC’s, but rather it was about her family. Her husband had served in the defence forces, and the service seemed to spark memories about her husband and her family. She went through the album with a number of staff and residents, sharing memories of overseas travel, stories about her family and challenging times that she’d been through in her life.

It was needless to say quite an incredible experience, listening to her stories. She was so happy to be reminiscing and sharing her memories with everyone. The resident was in her late nineties, and it was astonishing, listening to what she’d lived through, and the stories that she had to share. By her sharing her experiences, we all got to know her better, which consequently helped us to relate to her, and therefore improved communication with her.

Taking Time to Listen

This moment in time helped many of us to realise how powerful memories are. Listening to our residents and loved ones can really help us with getting to know them better. It also helps the person telling the stories to feel valued and important.

Being involved in the delivery of aged care support services in a caring capacity, includes active listening and talking. Giving clients or our ageing loved ones the time to reminisce shouldn’t be undervalued.

Keep in mind that many elderly people don’t always want to speak about their past, or may have difficulty in verbally communicating. If this is the case, there are alternatives to helping them to reminisce. It might be a piano, certain songs, or a Sunday night roast dinner.

Sharing Memories through Music

Many aged care facilities offer sing along time, or they play songs that are from the particular era of the residents. This is normally a joyous time, whereby residents come together. They’re smiling and moving along to the tunes. Other facilities have guest performers, and some have their own piano that those musically talented residents enjoy playing.

I once knew a woman who was a former school teacher. She’d often play the piano at her retirement village, and when other tenants’ grandchildren visited, she’d teach them how to play the piano. Everybody appeared to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

elderly man playing musical instrument

As a carer or loved one, remember that it’s ok to hear the same story many times. If you’ve heard the story before, still listen attentively. It gives people purpose to be listened to, and by listening, it allows the aged person to recall and remember who they once were and what they used to do. It gives them identity.

Looking for aged care services that offer such support and activities for your loved ones can be tricky. For further help in finding aged care support services that are right for you, go to Aged Care Prepare for further guidance.


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