Reminiscence, life review, and journals: effects on the well-being of older adults

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Virginia Tech

Review of life experiences for personal adaptation is a general tendency in older adults. A positive outcome of life review may be an increase in well-being. To test the hypothesis that reminiscence group activity, structured for life review, could increase well-being, a sample of 30 residents in a retirement community was studied, using a quasiexperimental, pretest-posttest design.

Research subjects, average age 78 years, were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. All were pre- and post-tested by four instruments: Life Satisfaction Index Form A, Affect Balance Scale, Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale, and the OARS Activities of Daily Living Scale. Control subjects received testing only. Experimental subjects participated in small reminiscence groups, structured for life review by the Haight Life Review Experiencing Form (LREF). The reminiscence group activity constituted one complex independent variable. Group activity included opportunity to write in private journals about LREF topics, shared voluntarily.

Data from the four dependent variables were analyzed separately, using scale score differences. Neither t-tests, nor one-way analysis of variance of differences in relation to frequency of group attendance revealed any statistically significant findings, although posttest scores showed some nonsignificant improvement.