Around the holidays, a technique known as reminiscence therapy may help adults with dementia recall happy memories, say geropsychologists from Mississippi State University.

In a recent article in The Conversation, Michael R. Nadorff and Mary Dozier offered tips for using the technique for optimal results:

  • Be an attentive listener. Make eye contact and angle your body toward the person with memory loss to convey that they have your undivided attention.
  • Use visual aids, such as photos or pictures. These help prompt memory retrieval.
  • Ask specific, detailed questions about holiday-themed recollections, such as foods eaten, decorations in the home, travel, and family members.
  • Listen to holiday-themed music and engage in low-impact activities such as cookie baking to engage multiple senses. 
  • Encourage awareness of sensory experience, such as smells and sounds, at each stage in holiday activities. Ask about memories of similar sensations from earlier in life.

Reminiscence therapy can be enjoyable for all involved and perhaps become a tradition in itself, Nadorff and Dozier conclude.