In assisted living settings, memory care is a type of specialized care for those living with Alzheimer's disease or other kinds of dementia. A memory care community usually has secure environments that may have nostalgic details that help lower stress for their community members.
In memory care communities, it's typical to find different activities, programs and events aimed at helping residents with their cognition. The staff generally has specialized training to provide quality care to individuals with memory loss and dementia as well.
Nostalgia is becoming an area of interest for memory care communities. Nostalgia is best defined as the sentimental longing for the past, whether a person wishes to go back to a previous period in their life or visit people they miss.
According to Krystine Batcho, PhD, nostalgia does have an important role in the human psyche. It is an emotional experience that helps to unite your sense of who you are, your identity, and your self over time. Since people are always changing, nostalgia helps to keep people their authentic selves by allowing them to look back on the past and see how far they've come.
Nostalgia comes in different forms, but memory care centers may focus primarily on personal nostalgia, which is a craving or want to go back to times in your life that you've previously stored in your memory because they evoke positive feelings or emotions.
In memory care, nostalgia is often utilized to help soothe people living with dementia and other memory-related issues. To help ease certain behaviors common with dementia, a memory care home may use sounds, props, scenes or other details from a person's past (or a past time period) to help them feel a sense of nostalgia.
Alzheimer's Disease, a degenerative disease, affects around three million people in the United States annually and is a common form of dementia.
People with this condition may slowly lose memories and start to see a general decline in their cognitive abilities and brain function.
While these individuals may be placed on medications, what has been showing promise is using a sense of nostalgia to help give these individuals a sense of self.
Two researchers, Marie A. Mills, CSS, RES, DIP, and Peter G Coleman, PhD, MA, C. Psychology, studied how nostalgia could potentially help people living with memory loss regain some of the cognitive functions that were previously thought to be lost. Since their 1994 study, scientists have used several different methods involving nostalgia to persuade people to remember.
The way the community creates a sense of nostalgia may begin with visual and auditory stimuli. This is because these two senses are some of the strongest and most likely to help pull up long-forgotten memories.
Some programs use what's called a nostalgia suitcase. This is a simple package with a few different things inside:
Other times, programs focus more on visually changing the environment. There may be a "memory" room completely decorated in the style of the 1950s, for example, or a comfortable, smaller space lined with photographs of popular celebrities from the past.
The most important thing to remember is that the nostalgic items must be something the individual can relate to. If the person was a huge fan of a sports team, bringing in items that remind them of that team and time in their life may be more beneficial than playing popular songs from the same era.
There are many benefits to nostalgia care, some of which include evoking memories and helping regain cognitive functions. Additional benefits include:
When seniors understand where they are or can find a sense of self in a particular space, it may help reduce their disorientation.
With a memory care setup, it may be possible to boost social interactions by making the person with dementia feel more comfortable in their surroundings. By evoking memories, they may "find themselves" in that era and be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings more easily.
In memory care communities, it may be possible to foster independence by making a space more familiar. Take, for example, Glenner Town Square, a faux community that's made to appear just as San Diego did in the mid- to late 1950s. Nicknamed a "dementia village," this form of memory care aims to trigger people's memories of the past and slow down their mental decline. They may walk the streets in a faux village or town or shop in a convenience store manned by memory care staff members.
Good memory care does make a difference for seniors with dementia. Nostalgia being a part of that care makes sense, and the science backs it up. To learn more about our memory care community at Autumn View Gardens, schedule a visit today.