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Importance of reminiscence this Christmas for people with dementia

A specialist dementia nurse in Cheshire is encouraging families caring for a loved one with dementia to use Christmas as a chance to reminisce.

Admiral Nurse Laura Birch, who works at Dementia Resource Community in partnership with Dementia UK, the specialist nurse charity, says the festive period is the perfect chance to create opportunities for people with dementia to help trigger Christmas memories.

Laura, 26, who covers the Macclesfield, Wilmslow and Knutsford areas of Cheshire, works alongside the Adults Memory Team at the Jocelyn Solly Resource Centre in Macclesfield.

She said: “It is important to be surrounded by loved ones during the festivities, but awareness of symptoms associated with dementia is key to ensuring a comfortable and relaxing Christmas for all.

“An overstimulating environment can be hard for people with dementia and may cause anxiety, especially if they have difficulty with communication, visual or hearing issues.

“It is important to consider what can be done to reduce anxieties and help those living with memory problems feel comfortable.

“Reminiscence therapy is a popular psychosocial intervention that can be used to reduce agitation, anxiety, and help develop bonds between those living with the condition and their care givers.

For those with dementia, long-term memories can remain longer than short-term memories and they often return to previous occasions, including their past Christmas memories.

“At this time of year, I like to encourage families to introduce reminiscence activities to reduce anxiety and promote good tidings.

“There are a lot of things you can do such as making a memory album, packed with thought-provoking photographs from a person’s past.

“I also like memory boxes filled with old photographs and other sensory provoking items. This could include their favourite smells, such as aftershaves, candles they used to have in their home, or other familiar smells that may provoke stimulating conversation.

“Music is also important and playing Christmas songs and carols can help to bring back all sorts of memories.

“I’m passionate about dementia care. Providing education, advice and coping strategies to help carers to support a loved one with dementia is so important.

“Introducing this form of reminiscence support at Christmas can relieve anxiety, depression and help those who struggle to recognise family members reconnect during the festive period.”

Admiral Nurses are continually supported and developed by Dementia UK to provide life-changing support for families affected by all forms of dementia.

About the service

Laura is part of a new specialist dementia nurse and memory assessment support service which launched this year in Cheshire to support local families living with dementia.

The aim of the service is to improve diagnosis rates and post-diagnostic support.

Dementia is a huge and growing health crisis, with 944,000 people living with the condition in the UK – and this number is set to increase to 1.1m by 2030.

The additional new service has been commissioned by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust and supports their Community Mental Health Teams. It follows a successful pilot in Ellesmere Port and Neston which helped more than 700 families living with dementia.

To find out more about the new service, families need to see their GP and ask for a referral via the local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) in their area.

For more information on this Admiral Nurse service, please visit: 


If you need advice or support around dementia, you can visit: 


...for information resources and to find out how to access the charity’s national Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline and Clinics services.

Pictured - Admiral Nurse Laura Birch, who works at Dementia Resource Community.

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