The Magic of Reminiscence Therapy

Ever experience a strong sense of comfort, calmness and happiness after “taking a trip down memory lane” with a family member or friend? That’s because reflecting on past positive memories is actually therapeutic. Reminiscing, or indulging in the recollection of the past, is not only a great way to connect and bond with others, but it’s also an effective form of memory care for individuals with dementia.

What Is It?

Reminiscence therapy uses various techniques to evoke memories about past events, feelings, and thoughts. As part of the therapy, facilitators may use conversations, simple activities, objects or storytelling to stimulate remembrances. An effective psychotherapy, it’s been proven to improve memory recall, mood and quality of life for older adults with chronic illness and depression. For individuals with dementia, other benefits can include:

  • Improved self-worth and confidence
  • Reduction in undesired behaviors
  • Whole person well-being, and
  • Increased happiness and connectiveness

Best Practices

A type of therapy that can be done at home or in a clinical setting, caregivers can incorporate the practice of reminiscing to help their loved one feel less isolated and more connected.


  • Engage and connect using all five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch
  • Focus on providing an atmosphere conducive for memories and experiences to resurface
  • Use photographs, props, songs, items and life stories/histories to prompt discussion of past events and experiences
  • Increase success by removing distractions and selecting a time they are most receptive
  • Go slow, listen, and acknowledge their feelings,
  • Move on to another item or revisit activity at a later time if they become frustrated
  • Enjoy each other and have fun
  • Reflect on the connection you made and use those insights for future sessions


  • Ask them to remember, quiz or force them to remember a certain event or person
  • Interrupt or correct them – even if they aren’t remembering something “correctly”

While reminiscence therapy is a useful tool to improve your loved one’s memory and mood, be sure to work with your primary care doctor and a dementia care specialist to determine the best care plan. Learn more about our memory care services and offerings or contact us at 817-877-1199.