When living with dementia, the part of the brain that manages memory storage can become damaged. The brain is unable to store memories as it once did, beginning with short-term memory and working backwards so that the memories accessible to someone may be from much earlier in their life. This can lead to disorientation, confusion, and isolation as the person feels they are in a place that is alien to them, surrounded by unfamiliar items and people. Reminiscence therapy encourages the person to try and invoke comforting memories through the use of photos, objects, sounds, smells, music, and other tools.
The Alzheimer Scotland website has some excellent resources on reminiscence therapy, which they describe as “sharing life experiences, memories and stories from the past. Where a person with dementia is more able to recall things from many years ago than recent memories; reminiscence draws on this strength.”