If you’re looking for activities — meaningful ones — to engage in with older adults or folks with memory loss, then you need to know about Timothy Trost.
The Cannon Falls-area artist has created a remarkable Art of Reminiscing therapy program designed to help caregivers connect their loved ones to their memories, emotions and feelings — and maybe even share their stories.
Trost’s guided reminiscing program kit ($75) includes materials to create a 12-month seasonal program for 12 adults, to be done in a group setting (led by professional caregivers or volunteers) or on a one-on-one basis.
It comes with 144 small conversation-inspiring cards, plus laminated leader cards, a corresponding activity resource guidebook/curriculum with questions, conversation starters, sensory-association object ideas and coloring pages, too.
Cards in the kits cover culinary, nature and lifestyle themes with memory-jogging drawings and creative expressions.
For example, one card shows a freshly baked pie with the title, “A Tart & Tasty Rhubarb Treat / Life’s Simple Pleasures.” Another is an image of purple irises with the title “A Summer Celebration.” Yet another is hook with the words “Happily Hooked on Fishing / Life is Simple — Just Add Water.”
Trost is working now on kits with fewer but larger cards (24 total), including 5x7s that would be suitable for framing. His next kit, to be released this fall, will be geared specifically toward men. A third version, focused exclusively on botanicals, will follow.
Though reminiscences can be facilitated through visual cues, familiar smells such as favorite foods, the smell of a woodworking shop or the scent of flowers can help, too, Trost said, adding that his guides include suggestions for sensory items that can be used in combination with the cards.
Studies have shown that art therapy — and other creative arts — can stimulate cognitive function in older adults who have dementia. It also may reduce depression in those with Parkinson’s disease.
As an added bonus, guided reminiscing can provide a way for caregivers and their loves ones to reconnect and enjoy a bit of nostalgia.
Participants needn’t have cognitive issues to truly benefit from recalling life’s memories.
“It’s really good for anyone,” said Trost, who said his father and father-in-law, who are both in their 90s and don’t have memory loss, love to reminisce.
Trost also sells fold-over notecards with envelopes (five for $10) with similar themes such as “Grandma’s Favorite Mixing Bowl” (an earthen bowl), “The Great Pumpkin Patch / Celebrating Harvest Time” (a pumpkin on a vine) and “Natural Farm Fresh Goodness” (a cracked, cooked egg).
Under lifestyle, you’ll find things like “Genuine Tough / Hardworking Memories” (tools); “First Forever Friend / A Fun New Adventure Begins” (a teddy bear); “Star-Spangled Memories” (American fl ags).
Nature notecards include “This Magic Moment” (a leaf); “Crossing Cherry Lane” (a moose); and many others designed to delight and inspire trips down memory lane.
Trost’s style — achieved using colored pencils and drawing paper — lends itself naturally to detailed culinary and botanical illustrations that evoke a sense of everyday life.
His work is included in many private collections and is in the permanent collection of the Bell Museum of Natural History. He and his family live at the historical Lone Oak Farm in southeastern Minnesota.
Visit artofreminiscing.com for details about Timothy Trost’s notecards and kits.
Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Good Age.