Whilst the change in scores on simple tests of orientation and memory may indicate increased alertness and engagement, without an accompanying improvement in mood or quality of life or social interaction it is difficult to argue that reminiscence is making a real difference to the life of the person with dementia. We had though planned to explore whether different types of reminiscence work had different effects, contrasting the group and individual approaches briefly exemplified by Brian and Vera previously. We also were able to examine whether the effects were different for those living in care homes, compared with those living in the community.
The most striking finding was that care home residents did show a small improvement in quality of life, alongside enhanced performance on cognitive tests, whereas this was not evident in people with dementia taking part in reminiscence activities in community settings. Individual reminiscence was probably associated with a small benefit on measures of depressed mood, and on cognitive performance. On the other hand, group reminiscence and community residence were probably associated with improved communication and interaction.