Benefits and Challenges of Reminiscence Therapy
The cognitive deficits and behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia are difficult to treat. Alzheimer’s drugs have had only limited success, and many disappointing results have recently been reported.1 For this reason, there has been a renewed focus on non-pharmaceutical approaches that can target mood and physiological distress, rather than on pharmaceutical approaches that slow the progression of the disease.
Reminiscence Therapy (RT) is behavioral intervention that involves the introduction of familiar pictures, music, or other materials to help individuals reminisce about their past experiences. RT is the most commonly used non-pharmacological therapy in AD and other types of dementia, and has been used since the 1960s for home care and in the nursing home and hospital settings.2
RT has been shown in over 30 years of published research to have a positive impact on mood and cognition in individuals with AD or other dementias and in seniors experiencing isolation.3-6 Specifically, RT has been found to decrease depressive emotions7-9 and feelings of loneliness,10 and to increase psychological well-being,8,9,11 life satisfaction,7,8.12-19 and communication.10 In addition, RT was found to increase cognitive level11,20 and social activities,21 and have a positive effect on activities of daily living.20 A recent meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled studies demonstrated that RT significantly reduced depression, and concluded that RT should be considered as routine care for those with dementia, particularly for dementia patients in memory care facilities.22
Major limitations of this therapy, however, are that it is highly labor-intensive, is typically provided in a formal group therapy session, is only provided once a week, and is only provided within a limited time-frame, which greatly limits the consistent use of RT. Frequent one-on-one RT with a patient is believed to be more effective, but is very time consuming and burdensome for the caregiver and is not practical in most settings.
The ReminX Solution
ReminX is a digital therapeutic that allows Reminiscence Therapy to be personalized and delivered directly to seniors without the structured time requirement or one-on-one administration that is needed with traditional RT. The goal is to scale RT such that it can become a practical and accessible adjunct behavioral intervention for seniors experiencing loneliness and isolation as well as those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. ReminX also is intended to assist the family caregiver, by enabling them to care of their loved one remotely and to enroll other friends and family in care.
A recent clinical pilot study was performed in collaboration with UC San Diego to determine whether ReminX could be used to deliver RT in the home setting. Results indicated that patients reported significantly less anxiety, depression, and overall emotional distress after having viewed their customized stories. Furthermore, patient’s caregivers also reported that the patient appeared less emotionally distressed. The accessibility and ease of use of the software system suggests that this technology holds great promise for bringing important aspects of reminiscence therapy to patients with dementia who are suffering from various mood symptoms.
1 Ogg JC. The list of failed Alzheimer’s drug treatments keeps growing. 24/7 Wall St.. September 26, 2017. http://247wallst.com/healthcare-business/2017/09/26/the-list-of-failed-alzheimers-drug-treatments-keeps-growing/
2 Kupucu, Duru Aşiret. The use of Reminiscence Therapy in Alzheimer Patients. J Neurology & Stroke. 6(2). 2017.
3 Duru Aşiret, G., & Kapucu, S. (2016). The effect of reminiscence therapy on cognition, depression, and activities of daily living for patients with Alzheimer disease. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 29(1), 31-37.
4 Gonzalez, J., Mayordomo, T., Torres, M., Sales, A., & Meléndez, J. C. (2015). Reminiscence and dementia: a therapeutic intervention. International Psychogeriatrics, 27(10), 1731-1737.
5 Hsieh, C. J., Chang, C., Su, S. F., Hsiao, Y. L., Shih, Y. W., Han, W. H., & Lin, C. C. (2010). Reminiscence group therapy on depression and apathy in nursing home residents with mild-to-moderate dementia. Journal of Experimental & Clinical Medicine, 2(2), 72-78.
6 Hsu, Y. C., & Wang, J. J. (2009). Physical, affective, and behavioral effects of group reminiscence on depressed institutionalized elders in Taiwan. Nursing Research, 58(4), 294-299.
7 Chueh KH, Chang TY (2014) Effectiveness of group reminiscence therapy for depressive symptoms in male veterans: 6 month followup. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 29(4): 377-383.
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21 Sivis R, Demir A (2007) The efficacy of reminiscence therapy on the life satisfaction of Turkish older adults: a preliminary study. Turk J Geriat 10(3): 131-137.
22 Huang, H. C., Chen, Y. T., Chen, P. Y., Hu, S. H. L., Liu, F., Kuo, Y. L., & Chiu, H. Y. (2015). Reminiscence therapy improves cognitive functions and reduces depressive symptoms in elderly people with dementia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 16(12), 1087-1094.