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  • MindMate Staff

How Mindmate integrates reminiscence therapy

We have already talked about how the Mindmate app can benefit people living with dementia to increase the quality of life and train brain functionality early on. In order to do so, Mindmate is applying the reminiscence therapy method. But what exactly is it, and why is it essential to the success of dementia research?

What is reminiscence therapy?

Reminiscence therapy is a treatment method that is making use of all senses - sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. By doing so, patients living with dementia are enabled to remember events, people, and places from their lives. As part of this therapy, caregivers might also use objects for different activities to help individuals remember different events better and associate them with the object.

Research about the effects of using reminiscence therapy for dementia patients

Researchers have studied the effects of reminiscence therapy on older adults who are living with dementia. In particular, studies have focused on two primary benefits of reminiscence therapy for elderly people with dementia: Improved cognitive function and an improvement in the quality of life.

A 2007 study investigated the effects of reminiscence therapy on both cognitive and affective function in 102 individuals living with dementia. The study used established scales to determine the effect of reminiscence treatment using a pre-and post-test self-report design. For cognitive function, the study used the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). For effective function, the researchers used the Geriatric Depression Scale short form (GDS-SF) to determine the perception of the individual of their state of well-being and the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD) to analyze how their caregivers perceived the patient’s emotional condition.

The randomized study found significant improvements in both the MMSE and CSDD scores following the test, which is an encouraging sign that reminiscence therapy has a positive effect in helping both cognitive and emotional functions for the elderly living with dementia. One concern raised about reminiscence therapy regards whether the improvements seen are due to the actual type of therapy being used (reminiscing about certain subjects) or merely if the increased in social interactions with peers causes the progress in cognition and overall mood.

A study in 2008 examined this, using an experimental group treated with reminiscence therapy and a control group where they also had group conversations about every-day subjects. MMSE was used to determine the level of dementia prior to the study, and as in the 2007 study, examined the cognitive and affective effect of both the reminiscence and conversation therapies on the two groups. For cognition, the groups were given a four-item verbal fluency test. When evaluating the participants’ mood, quality of daily life, and interest in the treatment, the study used the Todai-shiki Observational Rating Scale (TORS), and to self-report on their overall happiness, the participants took the Saint Marianna Hospital’s Elderly Dementia Patients’ Daycare Evaluation Table.

The results in cognition agreed with the 2007 study, with the reminiscence group recalling more words pre-to post-test. The control conversation group, however, saw a decrease in words recalled from pre-to post-test, supporting the argument that it is the type of reminiscence therapy used which causes the positive cognitive effect, not merely a typical conversation with peers. Finally, the study also showed improvements in both TORS and the Daycare Evaluation Table scores for the reminiscence group over the control, meaning the participants were happier, had improved quality of daily life, and were more attentive to treatment compared to pre-treatment and versus control group results.

One study looked at reminiscence therapy for people with two types of dementia: Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Those with Alzheimer's disease experienced significantly less ‘withdrawal’ (they withdrew less and interacted with others more) when compared with the control group immediately after the intervention. Participants suffering from vascular dementia showed significantly less withdrawal and improved cognitive function compared with the control immediately after intervention and after a 6-month follow-up. Sustained intervention may be required to maintain these effects over time, especially in elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease whose improvement in withdrawal was no longer seen after 6 months.

One study that explored the effects of reminiscence therapy on those diagnosed with dementia found that the participants who received reminiscence therapy experienced significantly higher well-being than participants who had been in either the goal-directed group activity or unstructured free time. A case study of an 88-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer's disease showed that he experienced improved cognitive functioning after individual reminiscence therapy.

Use Mindmate to increase your cognitive abilities

Do you want to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and try out different methods to stimulate your brain function? Sign up for our Mindmate app and enjoy brain games to improve your memory, exercises, and lifestyle hacks that can benefit your cognitive function.

Sign up here.


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