Current Activities in Long Term Care
By Kate Lynch, Editor  www.activities4elders.com/
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Current Activities
in Longterm Care

A bi-monthly magazine that
provides useful activities,
calendars, therapeutic
activities and programs,
feature stories, specialized
activities for Alzheimer's
patients and
other disease conditions,
professional news,
medical news and much more!
 
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Email: klynch@cfu.net
Reminiscence activities are beneficial for your elders

By Lorena Tonarelli M.Sc.
Current Activities Research Reporter
www.activities4elders.com

We all experience feelings of loneliness, occasionally, and most of us deal with them,
one way or another.

But, for elders, this is often a serious, ongoing problem, due to increased social
isolation.

Consequently, they are at risk of experiencing the negative effects of loneliness, such
as poor self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior.

This is particularly true for elders with a mental illness, writes Dr. Eris Perese in the
December 2008 issue of the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, because they also
have difficulty remembering the basics of friendship building.

“For example, how to ask people their names... introduce themselves... and carry out a
conversation.”

Other activities had failed to promote social interaction.

She says a special reminiscence program was developed, after a group of student
nurses had observed that other activities normally provided to elders with mental
illness were not effective at promoting social interaction.

“Even though patients sat next to one another for 6 hours, they did not interact with one
another.”

The program’s structure

Participants… elders with a severe mental illness who were experiencing social
isolation… met in small groups once a week for 30 minutes, for 10 weeks.

Each reminiscence session had a theme (e.g., getting to know each other, music,
cooking, seasons, animals, first television set, and spring holidays) and included the
use of prompts, like photographs, vintage music recordings, crafts, and food.

Promotes social interaction

The study’s major finding was an increase in the participants’ ability… and
willingness… to interact with one another. Group members were particularly pleased
when others used their name or shared their opinions.

“They showed increased skills in sharing information and taking an interest in others.”
For example, “one member who seldom contributed to group discussion described a
dog she had when she was 5 years old.”

Some were even able to write short sentences: “I like to talk,” “The people are nice to
know.”

Increases staff’s confidence

Another important result, says Perese, is that the nurses “experienced increased
confidence in their ability to provide effective nursing care for older people with severe
mental illness… and were no longer apprehensive about working with this population.”
This is of particular relevance given that poor training on how to care for people with
dementia or related disorders is one of the most common reasons why nursing staff
leave the job.

So, effective reminiscence programs may also help reduce turnover–which is one the
goals of the Culture Change campaign launched by the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve nursing home residents’ quality of life.
Reminiscence activities are not only enjoyable for your elders, they’re therapeutic, as
well. Benefits include improved socialization, and improved cognition.