Remembering ‘the good ole days’ can be pleasant for everyone. It can be a useful tool for caregivers and their care receivers. A famous psychologist, Eric Erikson, postulated that the task of later life is integrating our various former personas, jobs, and roles into a satisfying whole. If this task is not successfully accomplished, the alternative can be despair. If the person in later life looks back and sees failures and unfilled goals, and now has no time to repair damages, it is very depressing. With positive reminiscing, that same person can look back and focus on the small successes and achievements, and come to feel that life has been well spent and satisfying.
Remembering the things we have done that were successful, the things that made us feel good about ourselves, reminds us of what we have achieved. The caregiver can help make this possible by asking for youthful memories, and emphasizing the positives. Photographs, family albums, diaries, and memorabilia can be useful in bringing back memories. Magazine pictures can help trigger memories, as can sounds and smells. Have a whiff of fir or cedar, peppermint, chocolate, popcorn, rain, alfalfa, or cut grass – and notice how the smells bring back memories. Some of these are hard to bottle, like rain, but many others can be found on your pantry shelf. Music is especially likely to elicit memories; try big band dancing music, hymns, the Beatles, lullabies, music from musicals to name just a few.
These journeys down memory lane can be fun and satisfying for both caregiver and care receiver. Indulge!