Psychosocial benefits of solitary reminiscence writing: an exploratory study

ELFORD, H., WILSON, F., MCKEE, K. J., CHUNG, M. C., BOLTON, G. and GOUDIE, F. (2005). Psychosocial benefits of solitary reminiscence writing: an exploratory study. Aging and mental health., 9 (4), 305-314.

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Claims have been made that reminiscence has benefits for older people's psychological well-being, and that writing memories may be a therapeutic process. This paper describes an exploratory study in which five nursing home residents engaged in a process of writing their memories by themselves, in a series of booklets containing memory prompts and photographs, over a period of four weeks. Each completed booklet was typed up by researchers and returned to participants the following week, with a bound copy provided to participants at the end of the study period. Analysis focuses on two sets of data: an in-depth case study of one participant, and a thematic analysis of field notes, researcher reflections, and the written material produced by the other study participants. The case study revealed three main themes: views on the past; sharing the past; and confidence in writing about the past. The field note analysis indicated the presence of four themes: proof and maintenance of skills; psychological or internal processes; social contact; and pleasure in reminiscence. The writing was seen as cathartic and provided a meaningful purpose, an opportunity to exercise writing skills and memory, and a focus for participants to share key stories with others. This exploratory study suggests that there is potential in using solitary writing within a reminiscence framework to improve psychological well-being in older people. However, caution should be exercised when encouraging older people to write their stories. Issues of confidentiality, audience, support, and appropriateness of the activity for the individual need consideration.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: older people, mental health
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 305-314
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 01:15

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