European Reminisence Network

Review of RTRT project: Poland

Poland RTRT

Memorable moments that took place in our RTRT group

  • “I was surprised by the warmth and openness of everyone in our meetings”

    In a reminiscence meeting about holiday memories - one of the participants - Mr.John, who usually remains silent suddenly started talking about his wife's surprise sailing trip

  • During a reminiscence picnic in the nearby Oborniki – we discovered the vocal talents of Mr. Janusz, it turns out that he sang in the choir for most of his life. His wife, an actress, was always very involved in the meetings, but this time it was her husband was the head of the group.

  • In the meetings involving dance therapy, participants (carers and people with dementia) worked in pairs. It turned out that through physical movement and contact with another, they could experience their memories more powerfully. Spontaneous dance evoked great joy among the participants, as did songs evoking memories of youth

  • “I was surprised that old people can remember such particular things and so much detail. I even haven't known how much I forgot”

    A book and its significance: each team consisted of two people (a person who suffers from dementia and his or her caregiver). They were given a text to be read in turns ( a role play ). The other listeners had to recognize how particular fragments fitted together. For example, “Mr Tadeusz” – one of the carers who is not involved in activities related to art, revealed his talent for acting; he shared the surprise of his wife's experience of acting in her high school years

  • Reminiscing with use of different musical instruments – people created a small band, so the dream of playing in a band finally came true

The main things we have learned

RTRT

Successes to build on:

  • The meetings were a group process, and from meeting to meeting we grew closer

  • People were happy to come to meetings, and they always asked  for more meetings. They are willing to help in making them happen

  • Carers are asking for follow-up meetings. These meetings also give opportunities to establish new contacts with people in similar circumstances

  • For carers, the meetings give an opportunity to exchange experiences of coping with difficult situations associated with Alzheimer's disease

Pitfalls to avoid:

  • One pair gave up, despite our efforts and encouragements. Their consciousness of failing health was an insurmountable barrier

The main things that the carers in our groups learned about reminiscence

Memory boxes

“It might be the way to relieve suffering”

  • They learned how to encourage their family member with dementia to participate actively

  • The project showed them that this psycho-physical activity brings many benefits. They learned that they can always activate their person, even when in a declining state of health

  • By trying different approaches and using different stimuli (e.g. old photos, old artefacts and objects), the carers found that they could consolidate feelings of inclusion and raise the sense of identity and the self-esteem of their person with dementia

    “I want to spend more time with my relative. It lets me find a very special way of talking with that person. I understand more than before”

  • Involvement in reminiscence activities improved the mental functioning of their person and stimulated memory

  • They discovered that choreotherapy (movement and dance therapy) increased body-awareness, and helped overcome feelings of restriction. Through dance and movement, they developed increased skill in expressing emotions and using improvisation to reduce tension and increase effectiveness in dealing with difficult situations

  • They learned simple reminiscence exercises to practice at home  and we talked to carers about their successes and failures in using these exercises
    During the meetings, caregivers experienced such pleasant memories of childhood, and through doing this, they found a key to opening up the positive memories of their people with dementia

What the people with dementia in our groups gained from the project:

RTRT

  • They found that when a memory was evoked through an activity or an object, they could experience again what was important to them.

  • They had a chance to talk about what the significant aspects of their lives , to feel heard and to feel part of our small community.

Future plans

Plans for future reminiscence work in dementia care:

  • We would like to continue our reminiscence meetings. After finishing a period of choreotherapy, we are starting to work with music. We are talking to a professional musician - a pianist who wants to teach with people with dementia, all in order to help them recall memories, and perhaps the discovery of new talent

  • In the end of May we are having next integration family picnic conected with activities that people used to do in their youth. It is now a kind of tradition in our reminiscence meetings

  • We also have plans to create a drama under the direction of a professional artist

Plans to develop reminiscence projects in other contexts:

  • For over half a year we have a Polish reminiscence website, where you can find information about our joint activity

  • At the meetings we are publishing data and writing about future plans. At the forthcoming choreotherapeutic meeting we invited regional television to show to the others what we do

  • Since September, we plan to train more people interested in reminiscence therapy, while continuing to meet with an existing group, in which the members have become very close and strongly bound together

Top

Using the arts

Using the arts in our reminiscence groups

In our groups we did drawing, painting, used instruments and music, photographs and different objects to trigger and recall memories.

Benefits: we used dance and movement and discovered excellent drills for improving precision of movement and visual - motor coordination, both so important in Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

We used arts activity to trigger the spontaneity of childhood, and this helped to recall memories.

The exercises we used enabled participants to solve many problems and to  express  emotions and feelings.

Arts activities can become the major means of emotional expression.

People with Alzheimer's disease and dementia could express themselves non-verbally, reflecting their moods, especially when verbal skills are disappearing.

The people with dementia made fantastic gifts or souvenirs for their family carers, made ​​by their own hands.

The participants developed a pride in their work, leading to a perceptible increase in self-esteem.

Drawing

Products we made

Postcards: we prepared postcards and wrote greetings from remembered holidays

Images: we created images showing / sharing the memory of a childhood holiday, where we used to spend happy times

Baking: we made and decorated Christmas gingerbread

Dance: we created a simple choreography with a partner with dementia to the music of his or her youth

Memory suitcases: we created memory suitcases containing loved objects and photos

Memory boxes: we created memory boxes during an event held jointly with The Academy of The Third Age

Our next RYCTT project

Our next reminiscence project can be viewed in the RYCTT area of the site: Click to view

Contact us

Contact us

Wielkopolskie Stowarzyszenie  Alzheimerowskie

email stowarzyszenie@alzheimer-wielkopolska.org
web www.alzheimer-poznan.pl

Anna Maria Nowak  
email anuszka333@wp.pl

Lidia Huber
email lidapl@yahoo.com
email m.owieczka1@wp.pl

Lottery funded

Co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union

Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.