The positive effect of reminiscence therapy on the quality of life of people with dementia in long-stay care has been shown in a new report from NUI Galway. The report is the result of a major trial undertaken over the course of three years and involving over 300 dementia sufferers.
The trial is the largest of its kind internationally in the area of reminiscence therapy in long-stay settings, and was funded by the Health Research Board.
At its simplest, reminiscence is recalling an individual’s past memories and experiences, often through prompts such as photographs, music and familiar household items.
“The results showed positive effects of reminiscence for people with dementia,” explains Professor Eamon O’Shea of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway. “Reminiscence is increasingly seen as important in the care and support of people with dementia, given its potential to draw on early memories, which often remain intact for people with dementia, thereby highlighting the person’s preserved abilities rather than any cognitive impairment.
While pharmacological interventions have been the mainstay of caring for people with dementia, increasing attention is being paid to the role of psychosocial interventions in the care of people with dementia.”
Professor O’Shea added: “The results confirm the importance of a person-centred approach to the care of people with dementia in long-stay care settings. There are a range of psychosocial interventions, such as reminiscence therapy, cognitive stimulation, and art. Interestingly, there is reciprocity at play with the care givers, everyone gains through a more person-centred approach to care in long-stay settings.
Fifteen years ago Professor Eamon O’Shea wrote the first Action Plan for Dementia for Ireland and he has been influential in preparing the ground for the new National Strategy on Dementia which will be published by the Government in the coming months.
The cost of caring for people with dementia worldwide was estimated to be US$604 billion in 2010. While there have been no comprehensive prevalence studies on dementia carried out in Ireland, current estimates suggest that there are currently 47,746 people with dementia in the country. Approximately 4,000 new cases of dementia arise in the general Irish population every year. The cost of dementia in Ireland has been estimated at just over €1.69 billion per annum, 48% of which is attributable to informal care provided by family and friends to those living with dementia in the community.
The trial – the DementiA education programme incorporating REminiscence for Staff (DARES) – was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a reminiscence-based education programme. The intervention was a structured education reminiscence-based programme for care staff, who subsequently engaged in individualised reminiscence with long-stay residents under their care. The primary research question focused on the impact of reminiscence therapy on the self-reported quality of life of residents with a diagnosis of dementia.
Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway