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Reminiscence therapy (RT) is an approach that provides people with dementia opportunities to recount nostalgic memories and access thoughts for communication. It is one of the most commonly used therapies in aged care settings.

The aim of RT is to stimulate mental activity and it has been shown to improve wellbeing, mood, and cognitive performance in previous studies.

The aim of the study described in this article is to explore the relationships between targeted recall of autobiographical memories and the communicative gains following eight sessions of RT to inform future speech and language therapy practice in how best to harness this intervention. The study used a case series design, with multiple baselines, delivering RT to four females (mean age 87 years). Two participants had mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and two participants had Alzheimer’s dementia. Measures included QOL (DEMQOL) and cognition (MOCA), as well as discourse analysis of nine topics for nostalgic reflection. Results demonstrated significant improvements in macrostructure and amount of language used overall following the intervention. The two participants with MCI also demonstrated improvements in richness elements and generalisation to conversation. These results suggest that people with milder difficulties may benefit more from RT than those later in the condition. Notably people with dementia and their loved ones report wanting interventions earlier in their disease journey. This piece of work underlines the validity of this request and indicates we may need to revisit the way we deliver services to these groups. 

“I remember when ... ”: The impact of reminiscence therapy on discourse production in older adults with cognitive impairment.
Rose N, Whitworth A, Smart S, et al.
2020;Early online:1-13.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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