The birth of iReminisce

Like most things in life, it is always best to start from the beginning and work from there. My husband Tony was working for a national elderly residential and dementia care company, during his trips around various homes he always took the time to reminisce and chat with those that called that particular place their home.  He came across so many characters and stories that he wanted to find a way to preserve them. Tony always exclaimed,

The knowledge & experiences we lose, like library’s no one bothers to use!

After much research, we could never find a portable and simple tool that involved the loved ones of the elderly. We also looked for portable easy to use reminiscence aids that recorded ones life story whilst also stimulating the minds of those living with dementia through reminiscence work. We remained constantly impressed with the care teams on the ground and the many initiatives they used to stimulate minds and decided to make our own that would compliment them.

Tony is as a trustee of a very worthwhile charity called the National Activity Providers Association, member of the Dementia Action Alliance and a Dementia Friend. As a big supporter of the initiative he wanted to do something that would ultimately promote meaningful activity for older people and raise the awareness of dementia to the wider community.  Ultimately inspired by David Cameron’s Challenge on Dementia and after much planning iReminisce was born, designed to stimulate those living with dementia or other memory related cognitive disorders, whilst involving the loved ones of the individual.

As a company we are very proud to be part of the Dementia Action Alliance and we now concentrate on the creation of meaningful tools to aid the vulnerable whilst improving efficiencies for care providers. If you have any feedback for us then please do not hesitate to get in touch lindsey@cognitionsys.com.

Lindsey Upward

Using memories as therapy

Using a person’s memories as an intervention tool, carers can help improve the mental health of older adults.

Professor Philippe Cappeliez of Canadas University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology has long been interested in the impact of reminiscence— also called autobiographical memory—on the psychological functioning of older adults.

Our research has been able to establish empirically a link between reminiscence and the physical and mental health of seniors,

he explains.
Even before he began studying the phenomenon, the researcher suspected there was a link, but it had never been demonstrated by any scientific research. Philippe Cappeliez and his team conducted their research using a sample of about 500 people from several countries, including Great Britain, Canada, the United States, and Australia.

At the beginning of the study, participants answered an online questionnaire in which they evaluated their physical and mental health. Over the next 20 months, participants recorded the type and frequency of their reminiscences.

The reminiscences were divided according to their role in an individual’s development, as recognised by the scientific community. For example, certain autobiographical memories help build a person’s identity because they give meaning to the person’s life. Other types of reminiscences serve to educate the person’s peers or younger generations. In contrast, some negative memories, such as personal failures, can contribute to feelings of bitterness.

At the end of the experiment, participants evaluated their state of health a second time. By comparing measurements taken at the beginning of the study to those taken at the end, researchers observed that the more a person cultivated positive reminiscences, the better his or her physical and mental health was. On the other hand, negative reminiscing had a harmful effect on the person’s health.

The findings of this study confirm the relevance of the reminiscence therapy that Cappeliez’s team is using with older adults with depressive tendencies. This intervention specifically targets seniors living in residential care, who are more likely to experience periods of depression and whose life experiences are different from those of people not living in a supervised environment.

A growing number of health professionals in Canada, the United States and many European countries are looking at the results obtained by Cappeliez and his team. While some professionals were already using therapy involving autobiographical memories, this research team’s empirical findings confirm the reliability of this approach. As well, therapists now have proven methods for effectively using reminiscence therapy and are able to help the elderly age with greater contentment.

by Isabelle Marquis
original article http://socialsciences.uottawa.ca/eng/alumni_n_june11.asp