Research shows that reminiscence—when people share stories of the past—can have therapeutic benefits that go beyond simply helping to pass the time or keep one’s mind active. It can also have powerful physical and emotional benefits in the present, including reduced stress levels, strengthened relationships, improved health, and even longer life expectancy. This article explores what we know about the benefits of reminiscence and how you can create your own reminiscence sessions to help improve your quality of life.
Connection to past experiences
Research suggests that connecting with past experiences can help people live happier, healthier, and more engaged lives. In a recent study, participants who wrote about a meaningful personal experience they had (reminisced) reported higher levels of well-being than those who simply did word puzzles. Other studies have revealed that reminiscence helps older adults feel better about themselves and enjoy new experiences more. It also improves their ability to communicate with others and interact socially.
Keeping old memories alive
Studies show that reminiscence—talking about your past, recalling old memories—can be highly therapeutic. Older adults who engage in regular reminiscence are happier and more socially engaged than those who don’t. It can provide an outlet for grief and strengthen your relationships with loved ones. And for these reasons, it can be good for us mentally as well as physically.
Meeting new people and gaining new perspectives
As they age, many people find themselves becoming more introverted and losing their ability to reach out and connect with new people. One way to remedy that is through reminiscence—that is, being able to connect with others through stories about your past. It’s a simple act that helps us connect in ways we can’t always do when staring at a blank page or screen.
Connecting current relationships through shared memory
The past is not dead; it’s not even past. It’s a well-known fact that our memories can help forge new relationships and build intimacy in current ones. When you share your reminiscences with others, you strengthen your existing relationships and provide an avenue for new connections. Sharing stories from your past helps make people feel more connected to you, which makes them more likely to want to spend time with you. This can be especially beneficial when looking for love—the power of shared memory has been shown to increase attraction between two people! In addition, sharing stories about yourself will give others insight into who you are as a person—which may make them likelier to trust and respect you.
Breaking down stereotypes
Certain stereotypes—like how older people are set in their ways or demented—stem from a lack of interaction between different age groups. When we interact with people at all ages, we can take away our preconceived notions and appreciate everyone for who they really are. Reminiscing is one way to build these connections and understandings; when you talk about your childhood or share a funny memory, you’re essentially taking away an age barrier.
Strengthening mental health
We all know that mental health is just as important as physical health—and yet we are often woefully unprepared for its challenges. Today, more than ever, people are recognizing that strengthening their mental health should be a top priority. One practice that can help to achieve and maintain sound mental health is reminiscence therapy. This approach helps older adults with memory loss retain their sense of self and identity by helping them recall past events from their lives. In addition to improving quality of life, studies have shown that reminiscence therapy also improves social engagement among seniors with dementia.
By finding your past self through reminiscing, you’re able to look at who you were and how far you’ve come. This is particularly helpful for self-improvement because it helps allow us to see our shortcomings and mistakes in a new light. Through doing so, we can either take those lessons forward into our future or let them go. But by reflecting on one’s past self, one can learn how to grow as a person.
Communication skill development
As we age, we often see a decline in our ability to communicate verbally. If you’re looking to keep sharp and maintain an active social life well into your twilight years, there’s no better way than reminiscence therapy. This particular form of therapy encourages older adults to share stories with others about their personal experiences. But what exactly is it? How does it work? And, most importantly, why should you be interested in giving it a try?
Sign up for Storii Today!
Storii is the perfect platform for those looking to experience the benefits of reminiscence. By purchasing for yourself or a loved one, you'll be able to easily create an ongoing and consistent opportunity for reminiscing.
1. Receive 3 life story phone prompts a week (or call-in whenever). An example would be, "Today's life story question is: What is one of your happiest childhood memories? Press 1 when you're ready to record your answer."
2. The audio of recorded answers are transcribed and saved to their Storii profile. They can be shared with family, too!
3. Download recordings, add photos to your responses, and create custom prompts at any time!
Find out more here.