Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lecture on Reminiscence Therapy for Dementia Patients by Pam Scheweitzer

I did attend this lecture by Pam Schweitzer today, in Lion's Bhavan, Secunderabad

Mr Sashidharan of ARDSI, Hyderabad Deccan chapter introduced her to the audience. She is a pioneer in RT, having opened the world's first Reminiscence Center in London in 1987. In 1993 she established European Reminiscence Network with representatives from 16 countries. It is a great privilege to listen to her. 

According to Ms Schweitzer, in a Reminiscence Group elders are helped to make new friends; this is achieved  by members trying to recollect, describe and exchange past childhood stories about their own past. Each story may stimulate further memories by comparisons. New friendships or bondings may be forged.

Reminiscence therapy may also be used to break the barrier between children and the older persons. Senior citizens are encouraged to  narrate their childhood memories to children. A bonding could occur. Her team also works with elders in ethnic minorities groups; England of the thirties had only white people. After war many different nationals migrated into England for various reasons.  By older persons talking to children about their younger days, children have a chance to learn the struggles faced by their parents / grandparents in the past. Memories have to be stimulated and kept alive in the case of persons with dementia as they need to know who they are -- to retain their personal identities. Reminiscence therapists may use verbal stories, visuals (photos, pictures, videos), poetry, songs, sensory devices etc. Songs that you have heard and enjoyed as a child have a very powerful place in recalling memories.

The lecture was lively, even more so the discussions based on several questions that were raised subsequent to the lecture.

RT appears to have come a long way from Wikipedia article that over simplifies the whole thing as a supportive counseling practice (adjunct) in the treatment of brain injured persons in hospital environment.
Members of sss-global may remember Tom Holloway talking about Oral history recordings by elderly persons after the World war. Do you remember that we had a series of discussions on " What did you do on or around the days India got Independence?" RT appears to be something similar but with a focus on helping elders with dementia. In RT there interaction among participants which is useful.  

Dr P Vyasamoorthy


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