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Using Nostalgia to soothe Dementia

Nostalgia. That feeling of looking back and recalling how something made you feel, think or act. We all do it, sometimes without even being aware. It’s a comforting feeling that most people love.

There’s a secret power to nostalgia that can be incredibly soothing to those suffering from dementia in whatever form it is and at Carefour we teach our home carers the value of using nostalgia in the way they care for their clients.

The story so far

There’s plenty of evidence that once said it wasn’t helpful, but as times have changed and research has advanced there’s now many schools of thought that say that nostalgia, and even purpose-built nostalgia spaces such as replica train carriages, outdoor scenes, and kitchens with old appliances, can have a beneficial effect on those suffering with a cruel disease.

Most businesses don’t have the budget for recreating a train carriage or kitchen, but we know that within Home Care provision or Live in Care we can try a different way to recreate elements of nostalgia into the way we look after clients that help them reminisce and as a wonderful side effect, help to soothe.

The research

Recent research including papers from Bath University have shown that nostalgia helps improve low mood, general behaviour, ‘social connectedness’ and even cognition in clients. This is mainly because short-term memory is most affected and using older memories to evoke long-lost memories of happy times and places can calm and soothe and even help to create feelings of safety, belonging, and comfort.

The experts

The Alzheimer’s Society tells us that two-thirds of people in care homes or receiving care have some form of dementia and to be able to offer some sort of benefit to this huge group of clients is an opportunity not to be missed.

How we do it at Carefour

We tend to use nostalgia prompts. This might be looking through old photos or creating a scrapbook or a memory box.

Playing an old record or CD can bring back such strong feelings and emotions it can transport a client back to a safer, happier time.

A spritz of old perfume or aftershave can take you straight back to a time when you first knew that scent.

Wearing a favourite old cardigan or fetching an old wartime jacket from a wardrobe can inspire a beautiful conversation to help bring back many forgotten memories. Even the stamps on an old passport can whizz someone back to their travels.

Even a simple chat about the good old days, when tv’s were black & white and telephones just made calls and had wires can sometimes be enough to allow a client to feel safe and soothed in the memories that make them feel best.

At Carefour, we are dedicated to delivering the absolute best home care, or care at home to our clients, when they need it and where they need it.

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