The change of seasons can trigger memories for people of all ages, particularly for older adults.  Reminiscing and retelling stories from the past is an important way to feel connected to important people even when those individuals may no longer be living.  One of the great ways we can “care” for those we care for is to ask questions that allow the recalling of pleasant memories.  The change of seasons is a perfect time to direct conversations that recall season-related remembrances.

Triggers that help to prompt reminiscing about experiences gone by can begin when one or all of the five senses are activated.   For instance, the smell, taste, and look of favorite foods are a great conversation starter.   Consider summer time cookouts or Fourth of July barbecues; ask about favorite foods surrounding seasonal holidays.  Suggest going out for or making something from those delicious memories.  A trip out for an ice cream cone could be a wonderful way to bring smiles, laughter, and great stories into and older adult’s summertime days and nights.

Sometimes the simple pleasure of opened windows for a fresh summer breeze and the sound of birds singing can be a therapeutic treat.  Think about the changes in sleep patterns for older adults…what could be more beautiful than taking in a sunrise on the patio with a morning cup of tea, or sitting out for a sunset at the end of a day.  These are the sensory delights so easily missed after a long winter inside.

Reminiscing and storytelling can open a path to communication with the person you care for and also give meaning to their life.  Caregiving, especially involving someone dealing with dementia, can be lonely for both the caregiver and cared for person.  When someone is no longer able to be in the present for long periods of time, open the doors to the past and welcome them with the gift of listening.  Ask questions to keep the memories flowing.  Focus on the laughter and learn from it.  These conversations bring  joy to the heart and meaning to today.

-Ramona Hunt, Touching Hearts at Home

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