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Psychological and mnemonic benefits of nostalgia for people with dementia

Ismail, Sanda; Christopher, Gary; Dodd, Emily; Wildschut, Tim; Sedikides, Constantine; Ingram, Tom; Jones, Roy; Noonan, Krist; Tingley, Dani; Cheston, Richard


Sanda Ismail
Senior Lecturer in Public Health

Emily Dodd
Research Associate in Trial Co-ordinator

Tim Wildschut

Constantine Sedikides

Tom Ingram

Roy Jones

Krist Noonan

Dani Tingley


Background: Studies with non-clinical populations show that nostalgia increases psychological resources, such as self-esteem and social connectedness.

Objectives: Our objectives were to find out if the benefits of nostalgia in non-clinical populations generalize to people with dementia and if nostalgia facilitates recall of dementia-related information.

Methods: All three experiments recruited participants with mild or moderate levels of dementia. Experiment 1 tested whether nostalgia (compared to control) enhances psychological resources among 27 participants. Experiment 2 used music to induce nostalgia (compared to control) in 29 participants. Experiment 3 compared recall for self-referent dementia statements among 50 participants randomized to either a nostalgia or control condition. Findings across experiments were synthesized with integrative data analysis.

Results: Nostalgia (compared to control) significantly increased self-reported social connectedness, meaning in life, self-continuity, optimism, self-esteem, and positive (but not negative) affect (Experiments 1-3). Compared to controls, nostalgic participants also recalled significantly more self-referent dementia-related information (Experiment 3).

Conclusion: This series of experiments extends social psychological research with non-clinical populations into dementia care, providing evidence that nostalgia significantly enhances psychological resources. The finding that nostalgia increased recall of self-referent statements about dementia suggests that this emotion lends participants the fortitude to face the threat posed by their illness. The finding has potentially important clinical implications both for the development of reminiscence therapy and for facilitating adjustment to a diagnosis of dementia.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 31, 2018
Journal Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
Print ISSN 1387-2877
Publisher IOS Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 65
Issue 4
Pages 1327-1344
APA6 Citation Ismail, S., Christopher, G., Dodd, E., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Ingram, T., …Cheston, R. (2018). Psychological and mnemonic benefits of nostalgia for people with dementia. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 65(4), 1327-1344
Keywords dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, autobiographical memory, immediate recall, psychological adaptation
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : The final publication is available at IOS Press through:
Corporate Creators : University of the West of England, University of Southampton, RICE - The Research Institute for Care of Older People


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