Not only is it nice to reminisce, it also has some health benefits.
Remembering the past isn’t just a pleasant escape from your current situation, in fact, nostalgia has recently been shown to improve your health and wellbeing, as well as helping with the aging process and afflictions such as dementia.
Nostalgia was the phrase first used in the 1600’s by the Swiss to name the homesickness many soldiers felt after returning from the Alps. Nowadays however, we know that it is a worldwide experience, felt even by children as young as seven. So why do we do it?
Research shows that nostalgia actually boosts your mood, psychological comfort, and can even raise your self-esteem and optimism about the future. It also found that reminiscing about your youth, particularly in groups can benefit your memory and ability to recall, with even care home patients with dementia experiencing an 8% improvement in recall.
Remembering the past and discussing memories with a person or a group of people is beneficial to patients suffering from dementia. This is often referred to as Reminiscence Therapy, and can involve the use of various prompts such as pictures, music, or familiar items to dementia sufferers to help recall the past. Reminiscence therapy is shown to have a positive impact on patient mood and cognitive behavior, and on top of this is a pleasurable activity for those involved whilst giving carers an opportunity to learn more about patients and build closer relationships. A recently created Summer Moments Timeline, that covers the key events from the last 60 years of summer with images and descriptions of events, could be used in such therapy.
Though we all have different memories, reminiscing about shared experiences is also shown to promote sociability, and can even create bonds. When done in groups with people who have shared experiences such as wartime memories, or even events such as movie releases or sporting victories like the 1966 World Cup, it was shown to have a better impact on the brain. Team nostalgia showed it strengthened patients ability to recall, and can be even more useful than one on one talks with a caregiver.
So, looking through those photo albums, listening to a classic song, or even just talking with people from your generation can have a real positive effect on your health. Whether you’re remembering a beautiful holiday, thinking of youthful escapades with friends, or remembering when you first saw your partner, nostalgia isn’t just self-indulgent thought, it’s a healthy psychological activity.
My name’s Natalie and I’m 25-year-old entrepreneur who’s trying to make a difference. For the past 2 years I’ve been developing a wearable product that I hope will change the lives of families who are looking after those who may be more vulnerable.
Inspired by my own mom who’s cared for people with dementia for 15 years, I wanted to create a simple and affordable device that would keep them safer from wandering: a common and very dangerous side effect of dementia.
My product is called the Proximity Button. The Button is a small, light badge that is worn by the person with dementia. The Button connects to the carer’s smartphone via Bluetooth. If the person wearing the Button wanders too far from the carer and their smartphone, the phone alarms to alert the carer. The Proximity Button is a simple warning device to protect loved ones from wandering too far in the first place.
A few weeks ago I launched my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Start-up companies like my own, use crowdfunding to help get their products to market. There are two different types of crowdfunding: donation-based, where people give money out of goodwill; and reward crowdfunding, where donators contributions are exchanged for current or future products – the most popular type at this time. Our crowdfunding campaign is both. You can either donate or purchase the Proximity Button.
I’ve always been very aware of wandering issues within dementia due to my mom; however, it wasn’t until I began crowdfunding that I realised what a prevalent problem it is within autistic children too. A few days in to our campaign, a father in Philadelphia emailed me to say he had purchased a Proximity Button for his son who has autism. We had a Skype call shortly after as I really wanted to understand more and found how I/Proximity could help. Ralph explained that he loved the simplicity of Proximity and also the price point – there are some great products out there to hep with wandering but they often have a huge price tag. It was great to hear such positive feedback!
I am delighted to say that we’re now at 44% of our target and we still have just over 2 weeks to go! I would love for people to take a look at our campaign page – there is a great little video that shows the product in more detail and it fully explains how it works. From the campaign page, you can either donate or pre-order a Proximity Button. There are still some left at the early bird price too! But most importantly, I ask you to please share the campaign with everyone you know, the Button’s use can be extended to anyone, and you never know who might need protecting.
Whether your diagnosis came as a shock, or confirmed what you’d suspected for some time, it’s important to plan ahead while you’re still able to make clear decisions for yourself.
If you’ve just been diagnosed with dementia, you may be feeling numb, scared and unable to take everything in. Give yourself a little time to adjust. It might help to talk it through with family and friends.
Once the initial feelings have passed, it’s time to move on and create an action plan for the future. Dementia is a progressive illness, so the sooner you take care of legal, financial and healthcare matters, the better. These are the key things to think about:
Find out what’s available locally, so you’re prepared and able to call on this support as and when you need it. Services arranged by local authorities vary between areas, but may include home care services, equipment and adaptations for your home. Some services, such as community nursing, are arranged through the NHS. Ask your hospital consultant for details.
It’s a good idea to make a will, if you haven’t already. This ensures that when you die, your money and possessions go to people of your choosing. A person with dementia can still make or change a will, provided you can show that you understand what you are doing and what the effects of it will be. Your solicitor will decide if this is the case.
Make sure that all your important papers can be easily found. These might include bank and building society statements, mortgage or rent documents, insurance policies, your will, tax and pension details, bills and guarantees.
Consider setting up direct debits or standing orders for your regular bills. This will mean they are paid automatically from your bank account each month.
Check that you are claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to. In particular, check:
whether you are eligible for Personal Independence Payment (which replaced Disability Living Allowance in early 2013) or Attendance Allowance
whether your carer (if you have one) is eligible for Carer’s Allowance
Lasting power of attorney
You can appoint one or more people as “attorneys” to manage your affairs, including your finances, property and medical treatment, should it become necessary. You can choose anybody you trust to be your attorney, usually a close friend or family member, but they must be over 18.
You may wish to make an advance care plan, so you can have a say in your future medical care. It enables you to refuse, in advance, a specific medical treatment or procedure, should you become unable to decide for yourself in the future.
As with other long-term conditions, it’s important to look after yourself when you have dementia, by stopping smoking, eating healthily and taking regular exercise. Ask your GP if you would benefit from flu vaccination and pneumonia vaccination.
Memory books can be a helpful way of stimulating your memory and reconnecting you with your loved ones in the future. Essentially, it’s a “This is Your Life” compilation of photographs, notes and keepsakes from your childhood through to the present day. It can be either a physical book or a digital system, like a photo book.
Dementia books on prescription
Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia offer support for people diagnosed with dementia, plus their relatives and carers. GPs and other health professionals can recommend titles from a list of 25 books on dementia. The books are available for anyone to borrow for free from their local library.
Books on Prescription for dementia are also available to people living without a formal diagnosis, who may be worrying about symptoms.
For millions of older Americans, moving into a nursing home is a common step as many start to require more assistance and specialized care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1.4 million residents live in a nursing home facility and are likely to make it their permanent residence for the rest of their lives. Older individuals move to nursing homes for a number of reasons from a short visit after a surgery to a permanent stay after suffering from a memory loss issue like Alzheimer’s.
Today, there are a great number of nursing home facilities that are specialized in memory care or have a specific wing or unit for elders with dementia. If you are a caregiver or relative to an elderly loved one, here are some signs of dementia and some steps to consider when moving him or her into a nursing home facility:
What is Dementia?
Many people think that dementia is a specific disease affecting the brain, but instead, it is a term that describes the wide range of symptoms associated with memory loss and other cognitive skills severe enough to interfere with an individual’s ability to perform simple, daily tasks. There are two common types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s accounts for about 80% of dementia cases, while vascular dementia occurs after a stroke. Alzheimer’s disease occurs when there are high levels of a certain protein inside and outside of brain cells, making it hard for the cells to stay healthy and communicate properly and the hippocampus (the learning and memory center of the brain) becomes damaged, leading to memory loss.
Many people assume that dementia is a natural part of aging and is often mistakenly called “senility”, but dementia occurs when brain cells have been damaged due to depression, medication side effects, alcohol abuse, thyroid issues, and even vitamin deficiencies. While damage is often permanent, some damage can be stopped or prevented from getting worse when certain condition (listed above) are treated.
The Warning Signs of Dementia
Although dementia can affect each individual differently, depending on the type of dementia one has, there are common warning signs that can alert a caregiver or a relative that an elderly individual may have dementia. Some signs may include, but are not limited to:
Memory Loss: Forgetting newly learned information, asking for the same information repeatedly, forgetting important dates or information.
Struggle with Planning or Solving: An individual may be showing a early sign of dementia if he or she struggles with tasks that used to be easy such as simple math problems, keeping track of bills and important paperwork, and following a familiar recipe.
Unaware of Time or Place: Everyone may lose track of time every now and again, but when someone doesn’t know how he or she got to where he or she is or is confused about a time or place, he or she may have dementia.
Change in Mood or Personality: Damage to brain cells can make someone seem like he is someone else. He or she may not enjoy things like he or she used to or doesn’t trust or feel comfortable around friends and family.
Time to Move
When someone starts to show signs of dementia, many caregivers and loved ones try to “cover up” any evidence. Unfortunately, over time, particularly as the symptoms get worse, it becomes harder to help out and manage the symptoms like memory loss, changes in moods, and struggling to do daily tasks. As symptoms worsen, the health and overall safety of the individual with dementia is at risk.
According to Salvi, Schostok, & Pritchard, PC, early planning and research can make for an easier transition when it’s time to move a loved one into a nursing home. Before an incident occurs, such as getting lost or causing harm to oneself, caregivers and loved ones should begin to plan a move into a nursing home facility where the individual can receive the specialized and safe care that he or she needs.