In 1955 “health professionals believed that old people who reminisced were in the early stages of senile dementia” psychiatrist Robert Butler stated in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry back in 2002.
Dr. Butler was writing about his experience at the National Institute of Mental Health Laboratory of Clinical Science in the 1950’s when he become involved in a series of studies to demonstrate that “far from being a pathological condition, life review in older people is a normal developmental task of the later years”. From those studies Dr. Butler published the seminal article ‘The life review: An interpretation of reminiscence in the aged’ in 1964.
The article explained that “life reviews are extremely complex, nuanced, unguided, often inchoate and contradictory, and frequently filled with irony, comedy, and tragedy”. Butler encouraged health care professionals who cared for older adults to “facilitate the opportunity for a person to achieve resolution and celebration, affirmation and hope, reconciliation and personal growth in the final years”. Butler also advocated the use of reminiscence to help create a connection between professionals and clients.
In a 2014 article in the Journal of Aging Studies entitled ‘Celebrating fifty years of research and applications in reminiscence and life review: State of the art and new directions’, it is pointed out that “although Butler conceived of reminiscence and life review as naturally occurring processes in the last phase of life, studies found that not all older people engage in these processes”. The article also notes that engaging in reminiscence can promote “positive mood, self-esteem, feelings of belongingness and meaning in life and thus contributes to psychological health and well-being”.
LifeTimes Games of Reminiscence has developed an innovative app that brings together reminiscence therapy and mobile technology. They have partnered with the Centre for Elder Research to do background research and test the app. The app can be used by the family and friends of older adults as well as students and professionals who work with older adults to facilitate reminiscence.
Join us on Tuesday, May 6, for the launch of the LifeTimes Talk App. Please see the flyer below for details.