Previous studies based on reminiscence suggest temporary relief from common dementia symptoms, yet the impact of memory stimulating surroundings has not been adequately addressed. An environmental reminiscence approach was organized in a Norwegian nursing home. Artifacts and furnishings relating to the cultural and historical past of local residents were displayed within four residential posts and adjoining hallway, totaling five in all. Considering the urgent need for research based dementia care, the aim of this study was to explore the experiences of a group of caregivers using environmental reminiscence approach (ERA) in the daily lives of nursing home residents with moderate dementia. The results indicate how this memory stimulating approach assisted caregiver’s efforts toward reconnecting nursing home residents’ to personal resources and help restore wellbeing. Some residents responded negatively to one of the displays when burdensome memories were recalled. The overall findings however suggest meaningful outcomes in cognitive activation, emotional stimulation and social participation for most residents with moderate dementia. While additional research is needed, this study indicates environmental reminiscence approaches may be a promising, practical reminiscence approach towards dignity preserving dementia care.

Keywords: cognitive activation, dignity, emotional stimulation, social participation, wellbeing