Why Is Reminiscing Important For The Elderly (and How to Help)?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

It is important to encourage the elderly to reminisce because these memories could pass on history and wisdom, improve health and self-esteem, and provide entertainment and laughter for a lighter mood.

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Reminiscing has a positive effect on the mental health of senior adults. The latest research reveals the beneficial effects of reminiscing on the happiness and life satisfaction of older adults aged 50 or above [1].

The personal identity of older adults, especially those who suffer from mental conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, seem to easily slip away as their cognitive abilities decline. But these seniors might be holding onto cherished memories of the past even though they begin to lose touch with current events.

Reminiscing can help bring back their cherished memories and improve their mental and emotional well-being over time. This article provides information on why reminiscing is important for the elderly, and how you can help your loved one reminisce.

The Many Benefits Of Reminiscing For Seniors

Reminiscing helps preserve family history. Most family members know nothing about the lives of their elderly ones. They forget that their loved ones also had a young and full life in the past.

Passes on History and Wisdom

Seniors who reminisce about their past could pass on valuable memories for future generations. The act of reminiscing about the past helps bring families closer together by sharing memories from their family history.

Be sure to have your phone or a digital voice recorder handy to catch these little nuggets.

Improves Outlook on Life

Senior adults who reminisce tend to have an improved outlook on life. They will smile more after recalling happy times of the past. It helps cheer them up and improve their mental and emotional wellness over time.

Reminiscence therapy is an effective treatment for older adults suffering from dementia and depression. The older adults who reflect on their lives tend to find greater satisfaction in their old age. Seniors forget to worry about their medical conditions when they are busy sharing their past accomplishments with their family members.

It also helps increase the confidence and self-esteem of the loved one.

Improves Overall Health

Remembering good memories from the past helps improve one’s body. Senior adults who reminisced often showed lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t.

On the other hand, reminiscing unresolved conflicts in their past lives can help seniors forgive those involved in the conflict and move forward in life with a more mature understanding. When older adults are able to share their past experiences with someone in the family, they can reduce their stress levels.

Provides Entertainment and Laughter

Old memories provide laughter and entertainment for seniors who are feeling bored with their present conditions. Since laughter is considered good medicine for happiness, generating happy memories from the past will lighten the day for your senior adult.

The latest research reveals that as a person remembers the past, new pathways form in the brain. These pathways help improve the ability of the senior to communicate better.

Improves Self-Esteem

Aging has a detrimental effect on the self-esteem of older adults. Reminiscing helps older adults recreate their life’s meaning by connecting to the past. They will have an improved sense of self since they feel important by sharing their accomplishments in the past. It helps increase the self-esteem of your loved one.

How To Help Your Loved One Reminisce?

Your loved one may need a little bit of help reminiscing their past. You can help your loved one reminisce the past by:

Playing special music

Hearing old songs can bring back fond memories of the past. Play a tune that was a hit during their youth to awaken their past memories.

Using objects

You can take an object in your loved one’s home and ask him/her to explain the history or story behind the object. Why did he/she buy it? When and how did they buy it? What made it special to him/her?

Ask some of these questions to arouse the curiosity of your loved one and get him/her to speak about the object.

Going through old albums and photographs

Familiar faces and places will prompt your loved one to talk about past memories. Going through old photographs or albums is the best way to do it.

Referencing their favorite movies

Find out about the favorite film your loved one saw in his/her younger years. You can either talk to them about the movie or watch it with them to help your loved one to open up about his/her past.

Reminiscing has a positive effect on the mental and emotional health of your senior. It helps improve the quality of life and happiness of your loved one. You can help your loved one reminisce about his/her past by using the tips provided in this article.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1569186107700037
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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