People with dementia keep these functions

long-term memory (when they were children)

procedural memories (ride a bicycle, swim)

emotions (they can anger)

physical function (they can wandering)

Activity Reminiscence Therapy ;ART

  We presented patients with traditional items (such as tools) or pictures of traditional items that they may have used when they were young. Patients were asked to name the items, and to explain both verbally and using gestures how they used them. The gesturing was very important not only because it stimulated procedural memory, but also because it made all the participants smile. This helped to create a pleasant atmosphere.


  After that, the staff followed the patients’ instructions and attempted to use the items. As they were much younger, the staff were not used to using such items and often made mistakes. The patients corrected the staff’s mistakes. These mistakes also helped to create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. In this part of the session, it was no longer clear who had dementia and who did not.


   The staff praised the patients sincerely for their teaching. Many of the staff had thought that the patients were incapable, and so were surprised and impressed by the patients’ knowledge and skills. 


ART Sessions

Topics Tools
Cooking rice rice kettle, furnace, measuring cup, charcoal
Traditional games Juggling bags, cup-and-ball toy, propeller
Pickling vegetables rice-bran, earthenware pot, salt, water
Washing clothes tub, washing board, washing powder
Sewing rags cloth, stitch, thread, pincushion
Making rice cakes mortar, mallet, steam pot, glutinous rice
Rice-bran rice-bran, rice-bran bag, washbowl
Mortar and pestle mortar and pestle, taro potato, sesame
Handmade snack barley flour, rice-bowl, spoon
Weaving silkworm, pirn, shuttle
Elementary school old textbook, pencil, school bag
Making noodles knead pot, rolling pin, board

*Kijima S. Chihousei-koureisya-ni-taisuru-sagyouryouhou-wo-kanngaeru. Nihon-hukusidaigaku-senmon-gakkou-kiyou 2002 (in Japanese).

*Yamagami T, Takayama Y, Maki Y, Yamaguchi H. A randomized controlled trial of brain-activating rehabilitation for elderly participants with dementia in residential care homes. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra 2012.

*Yamagami T, Oosawa M, Ito S, Yamaguchi H. The effect of activity reminiscence therapy as brain activating rehabilitation for elderly people with and without dementia. Psychogeriatrics 7 (2) 69-75, 2007.