How Seasons Can Spark Memories for Those Living with Dementia

By on September 6, 2019
Memories

When living with dementia, it can be common for memories of the past to become more difficult to recall; it is therefore highly important to explore a variety of different ways to help evoke memories and encourage conversation. As our memories are often closely linked with sensory experiences, a fantastic way to help spark memories is to embrace the sensory changes associated with seasons. Here we will discuss just some of the ways seasons can help to influence reminiscence and some fantastic dementia-friendly seasonal activities. 

What is Reminiscence?

Reminiscence is the act of recalling memories from the past whether it is just thinking about a certain time or discussing a particular experience. For those living with dementia, reminiscence can be highly beneficial for evoking positivity and helping to improve mood whilst reducing stresses. There are many different ways to encourage reminiscence for someone living with dementia, and one which has been researched thoroughly is the use of sensory exploration. 

Sensory Stimulation

Our memories are often closely linked to a sensory experience and by reliving this sensory change, whether a certain smell, a taste or a sound; it can help to recall memories of that particular time. For those living with dementia using a combination of experiences, taking part in dementia activities from Active Minds, spending time in the outdoors, or creating a certain environment with sensory stimuli can all help in aiding with reminiscence. 

Exploring the Seasons

A seasonal change can bring about a whole host of sensory changes and associations, either naturally occurring outdoors or created through traditions. Things such as the smell of pine trees in winter or the taste of ice cream in summer can be brilliant triggers for memory recall when living with dementia. Below are just some ways to explore seasonal changes with your loved one to help them evoke memories of the past, which in turn can encourage conversation and help to improve overall wellbeing and mood. 

Spring

MemoriesSpring is synonymous with new life and provides a brilliant opportunity to get outside and experience nature. The sounds of birds singing, along with the smell of new flowers and freshly mown grass can be excellent for triggering memories. Why not take part in activities such as flower arranging, bird watching or create an indoor garden to watch flowers grow and come to life as a way of experiencing spring with your loved one and evoking memories of the past.

Summer 

With lighter evenings, warmer days, and the prospect of going on holiday, the summer months provide a brilliant time to evoke positive and fun memories of the past. If your loved one used to spend time at the beach during the summer, why not take a day trip together to a familiar spot and see if the environment can bring back memories of the past.

The smell of the seaside, partnered with the feel of sand on their feet, sounds of seagulls and waves and a favorite seaside meal, can all help to trigger memories of holidays gone by. Why not ask your loved one some gentle questions about the beach and memories surrounding it to help encourage conversation. Alternatively, use indoor sensory stimuli such as looking at photographs of the beach whilst smelling a fragrance of the sea and listening to beach sounds if your loved one is not able to travel. 

Other fantastic summer activities can include spending time in the garden, whether going for a walk or simply spending some time sitting in the sunshine, both are fantastic for exploring the senses. You can also enjoy food often associated with summer such as ice creams or perhaps even a BBQ to help trigger memories. 

Autumn

A brilliant season for evoking memories, autumn provides an array of new colors, smells textures and sounds. It can be a great month for going on a walk and exploring nature and the new environment autumn brings, and the sensory experience it provides. From fallen leaves to the cool breeze it can be a great way to spend some time outdoors. 

Alternatively, brilliant indoor activities could also include creating a collage from leaves, cooking a familiar autumnal meal or doing a jigsaw with an autumn-themed image. 

Events such as Halloween and Bonfire Night can also be great for sparking memories, so why not come up with some dementia friendly activities surrounding these events such as painting a pumpkin, watching a firework display from the indoors or perhaps taking part in some arts and crafts with an autumnal theme. 

Winter

The feel of crisp, cool air against the skin, smell of pine trees and cinnamon, and the freshly fallen white snow on the ground all provide fantastic sensory experiences for evoking memories during winter. 

When the winter months start, why not arrange some dementia friendly activities which help to spark memories surrounding the seasonal change. Things such as decorating a tree, drinking hot chocolate by the fire, wrapping presents or listening to the music associated with the holidays can be excellent for sparking memories.  

Exploring the sensory changes which come as the seasons move on, can provide an excellent platform for helping to spark memories in those living with dementia. If your loved one has fond memories of a particular time, why not see if these can be evoked with a variety of different engaging and dementia-friendly activities.

 

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How Seasons Can Spark Memories for Those Living with Dementia