"Before 1960, reminiscence was seen as a symptom or cause of mental deterioration and was actively discouraged by carers of older people" (Buchanan & Middleton, 1994). However in recent years the value of reminiscence has begun to be understood.
In this essay I will be looking at how Reminiscence therapy affects the elderly. Firstly I will talk about reminiscence and explain in brief what it is. Then, by using the literature, I will explore what preparations would need to be made to run a reminiscence session and what skills would be required. Using relevant course materials and information I shall explain the advantages and possible difficulties of doing reminiscence work in a day centre.
Reminiscence, as a structured process of recalling memories, is considered an effective nursing intervention for various groups of people, particularly, but not exclusively, the elderly (Jonsdottir, 2001). It is an activity which is perceived as a normal and ordinary aspect of everyday life; for example, when someone is reminded of their past experiences, whether it is during a school reunion, or perhaps when a young child is helping their grandmother to spring clean and they stumble across some old photographs. If the child asks questions about the photographs, the grandmother has to reminisce to be able to tell the grandchild about them.
Some people need help to reminisce, by professionals such as therapists for example. They may need this help because they might have been isolated in a nursing home, or they may have short term memory loss. Reminiscence is usually carried out in small groups enabling introvert people to open up.
There are several advantages of using reminiscence therapy with older people. First, and most important, the old person becomes less anxious, cut off and confused and, in linking to the past; is more able to participate in the present.
When an elderly person suffers from loss, either of a loved one or their home, they can have feelings similar to those associated with the grieving process. They can become depressed and anxious in new and strange surroundings, and reminiscence has been suggested as a way to overcome these problems. Participating in reminiscence, gives the clients or residents an opportunity to talk about their past lives and in doing this they get an understanding of what's happened to them (Block 4, p17).
Reminiscence researchers have focused on what Erikson termed ''ego-integrity'' (Parker, 1995). A person who achieves ego-integrity in old age believes their life has significance and meaning and is fulfilled and does not fear death. Butler extended Erickson's theory and believed that ego-integrity is attained through recalling one's past from an analytical and evaluative perspective (Kovach, 1989).
Second, it may only be possible for those who care for confused elderly people to understand their worries if their past lives are known and respected. It is important that people working with the...