A month later, one of the participants, a 78-year-old lady called Anne, was interviewed to find out whether she’d found the project helpful. The researchers also kept field notes and the care home manager completed a questionnaire about the project.
Anne enjoyed the reminiscing and after initial anxiety was surprised by how well she had been able to write, and by how much she had remembered. “I thought ‘I’m not capable of doing it’, but you helped me and it came out easily “, she said. The researchers’ field notes revealed the other participants had also enjoyed the project, and that the process had served as a social prop when friends and relatives visited. The care home staff were also impressed by the level of interest shown by the participants. “It surprised me. [You] forget they can write”, the care home manager said.
“There were numerous benefits to the participants from engaging in writing activities, including the fact that it was cathartic, provided a sense of meaning and purpose, an opportunity to exercise writing skills and memory, and a focus for them to share key stories with others”, the researchers concluded. “Providing writing materials is one very simple and inexpensive way in which care settings for older people could increase the opportunities available to them”, they added.
Elford, H., Wilson, F., McKee, K.J., Chung, M.C., Bolton, G. & Goudie, F. (2005). Psychosocial benefits of solitary reminiscence writing: An exploratory study. Ageing and Mental Health, 94, 305-314.
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