How To's and Tips, Senior Living

Improving Memory Recall in People with Dementia

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To continue the month-long conversation for World Alzheimer's Month, we've been taking a look at various topics surrounding Alzheimer's and Dementia. This week, we'll be diving into different methods anyone can use to help improve memory recall in people with Dementia. 

Stimulate the Senses
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to stimulate memory recall in people with dementia is to offer up items or activities that stimulate their senses. All 5 senses can be appealed to in order to increase their memory recall whether it’s looking at an older picture, smelling familiar scents or listening to music. In fact, many studies have been conducted on the effect that listening to music has on the brain, more specifically, how it positively affects memory recall. Similarly, the known implications of smell on triggered memories are substantial; combining stimulation of 2 senses or more can have profound impacts on people with Dementia. 

Reminiscence Therapy
While research on this topic is ongoing in relation to Dementia, there are definitive cognitive benefits of this kind of therapy in seniors on a larger scale. Reminiscence therapy can take a few different forms like looking back at photographs or listening to familiar music but all of them have a common goal: to help alleviate feelings of social isolation and depression in older people. While RT can help elicit a better mood, it’s also been found that our emotions play a heavy role in our memory recall. So an elevated mood due to recalling uplifting memories can help to further improve memory recollection; this link is called mood-congruent recall.

“...for example, an individual who is in an affective state of joy will recall more easily, and in a greater number, the information that has a positive affection than those that contain depressive material and negative affections.”

By helping someone reflect on happy memories, there’s an increased chance for them to remember more positive elements of their lives. 

Physical Fitness
While one of the biggest factors of memory loss is the build-up of plaque in the brain, a decrease in cerebral blood flow can allow that plaque to stay there. It’s for this reason why physical exercise is so important for elderly people, especially if they’re showing signs of Dementia. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either; light stretching or walking can increase blood flow to the brain. 

With more circulation comes restorative processes like new cell growth in the memory center of the brain. Researches found that in animals that exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, those that were exercised “had greatly enhanced memory compared to sedentary ones due to improved adult hippocampal neurogenesis.” 

Memory loss due to a form of Dementia is never an easy thing to deal with, especially since there are so many different factors to consider. Hopefully some of these suggestions can help facilitate better memory recall, even if it is just a bit. 

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