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Library corner: A time to reminiscence

Tallie Gray
GCLD Director of Library Resources
Reminiscence Kits are a form of therapy for people suffering from dementia. The kits each have a theme to help people recall positive life experiences to help create joy, comfort, and shared memories.
Courtesy GCLD

A critical component of my job is to think about Grand County Library District’s patron demographics and provide resources that are helpful, fun, entertaining, and educational.

One group that has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind, especially during COVID-19, is those who need caregivers. I consider these individuals to be a library unto themselves, filled with history, experiences, and perspectives that should be shared. GCLD now has resources to help in pulling forth oral stories from those in need of care, especially those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The U.S. has approximately 6 million people living with dementia related diseases or Alzheimer’s. This is a daunting number which is projected to more than double in the next three decades, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Almost everyone has a connection to someone with dementia, which is why GCLD has started a collection of Reminiscence Kits to provide meaningful activities for caregivers, for those in care, and for family members and friends.

Reminiscence Kits, otherwise known as Adult Caregiver Kits or Memory Kits, can be rewarding for all involved as they are designed to spark connections and be therapeutic. Reminiscence therapy is a form of a “person-centered approach rather than disease or generational specifics,” as stated by MEternally, a company that sells such kits. The concept is simple. Each kit has a theme to help recall positive life experiences. The hope is to generate joy, comfort, and shared memories.

Caregiving for one with dementia can be complicated. There are a lot of rules, such as do not to use the phrases “do you remember” or “do you recognize” or a plethora of others. It can feel like tiptoeing barefoot through fragile flowers surrounded by shards of glass when conversing and trying not to upset those living with dementia.

So, to have a kit to help facilitate conversations about memories that have been locked away is breath of fresh air. The activity questions are vetted and the photos are meant to trigger happy memories.

Karrie Selke, CAN, QMAP, PCP is the Activities Director at Cliffview Assisted Living Center in Kremmling. She recalled that while sharing a kit, one resident exclaimed, “Oh, how I remember my dad and my grandpa out in the fields way past dark, working on those tractors!” And another shouted: “I used to sit up in the hay loft and dangle my feet out the door when milkin’ time was over.”

While listening to other’s memories, have a pen and paper available. You may be amazed by what is shared.

But these kits are terrific for all GCLD demographics. Use them for writing prompts or as conversation starters. See how many connections can be made from generation to generation. Be creative.

Currently, GCLD kit themes all start with “Favorite Things” and then include Patriotic, Great Outdoors, Winter, Summer, and Farm. Each kit includes a box of photo/activity cards, instructions, and a DVD.

You can place a hold on kits by searching “Kit Caregiver” under subject on the catalog page at http://www.gcld.org.


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