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The content of nostalgic memories among people living with dementia

Ismail, Sanda; Dodd, Emily; Christopher, Gary; Wildschut, Tim; Sedikides, Constantine; Cheston, Richard

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Sanda Ismail
Senior Lecturer in Public Health

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Gary Christopher
Occasional Associate Lecturer - CHSS - AHP

Tim Wildschut

Constantine Sedikides


Although dementia may affect the reliability of autobiographical memories, the psychological properties of nostalgic memories may be preserved. We compared the content of nostalgic (n = 36) and ordinary (n = 31) narratives of 67 participants living with dementia. Narratives were rated according to their self-oriented, social, and existential properties, as well as their affective content. Social properties and affective content were assessed using a linguistic word count procedure. Compared to the ordinary narratives described in the control condition, nostalgic narratives described atypical events, expressed more positive affect, and had more expressions of self-esteem and self-continuity. They were also rated higher on companionship, connectedness and the closeness of relationships, and reflected life as being meaningful. Despite their cognitive impairment, people living with dementia experience nostalgia in similar ways to cognitively healthy adults, with their nostalgic narratives containing self-oriented, social, and existential properties


Ismail, S., Dodd, E., Christopher, G., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., & Cheston, R. (2022). The content of nostalgic memories among people living with dementia. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 94(4), 436-458.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 6, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 10, 2021
Publication Date Jun 1, 2022
Deposit Date May 7, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 11, 2021
Journal The International Journal of Aging and Human Development
Print ISSN 0091-4150
Electronic ISSN 1541-3535
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 94
Issue 4
Pages 436-458
Keywords Alzheimer’s disease; autobiographical memory; meaning in life; self-continuity; social connectedness; self-esteem
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