It is no secret that memory care is multi-faceted. Dementia continuously surprises us with new ups and downs, zig-zags, loops, and directions many never even knew existed. The common saying that, “it takes a village,” rings true when it comes to memory care; however, this saying does not only refer to people as support. It is also referring to the “village” of many different and creative interventions to enhance the lives of those living with a memory impairment.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, or CST, has made its way to the frontline of successful interventions for improving the lives of so many individuals living with memory loss. Dolan Memory Care Homes residents have shared this is one of their favorite activities in which to participate! Two of the most significant benefits of CST that we have seen at Dolan include increases in mood and the development of relationships between residents.
CST was created in the United Kingdom and consists of 14-themed sessions that provide a safe environment for individuals to create moments of joy by building relationships and stimulating both working memory and long-term memory. CST is an opinion-based discussion group that is tailored to the participants in the group. These sessions are led by two facilitators that engage the group through reality orientation, creative thinking, and reading and discussion on personal opinions regarding an array of topics. Examples of topics used include music, current events, art, history, childhood memories, word games, and many more.
So, why is CST so imperative to improve the lives of persons with dementia? Although there is no magic wand to make this disease disappear, CST is a colorful, non-threatening option that has shown significant improvements in mood, confidence, and concentration. Each CST session is unique in that each topic utilizes different activities and articles for the session while also utilizing the key principles of CST:
- mental stimulation
- validation therapy
- executive functioning
- person-centered care
- relationship building
Residents at Dolan Memory Care Homes benefit from CST session by being emerged in a group setting that allows them to talk in-depth about topics that they have most likely been engaged in throughout their lives. Our residents leave sessions with smiles on their faces-one gentleman said, “I always look forward to this group, we always laugh a lot and I get to say how I feel about things.”
CST at Dolan Memory Care provides laughter and joy, proving it to be a powerful and supportive intervention. CST provides probing into the long-term memory to embellish on those memories, which brings happiness and nostalgia to the Dolan residents.