Background: Reminiscence interventions for people with dementia ignore the role of nostalgia, despite overwhelming evidence that nostalgia is a psychological resource in social psychology research involving non-clinical populations. To date, research has not examined the effects of nostalgia among people with dementia. One possible reason for this is that dementia is rarely conceptualised as an existential threat although existential concerns are implicit within the dementia literature.
Aim: To compare nostalgic and non-nostalgic memories on a range of psychological resources (outcomes) among people with mild to moderate dementia.
Methods: Two randomised controlled experimental studies were conducted among individuals with mild to moderate dementia. Nostalgic and non-nostalgic memories were evoked either using an event-reflection technique (Study 1) or music (Study 2). Outcome measures were social connectedness, self-esteem, meaning in life, self-continuity, optimism and positive and negative affect. Data were analysed using content analysis to explore the way in which both memories were experienced. Several statistical tests were then used to compare the two memories on the outcomes.
Results: Nostalgic memories were experienced differently from non-nostalgic memories. Nostalgic memories tended to be more self-relevant, prominently featured people and sometimes assumed a redemption sequence. Statistically, nostalgic memories significantly increased social connectedness, self-esteem, meaning in life, self-continuity, optimism and positive (but not negative) affect relative to non-nostalgic memories in both studies. However, only individuals who were more resilient (Study 2) or were higher in trait deficit-reduction (Study 1) perceived social connectedness benefits from nostalgia. Moreover, participants who were more neurotic did not derive meaning in life and self-continuity benefits from nostalgia (Study 1).
Conclusion: Nostalgia is a positive psychological resource for people with mild to moderate dementia. This calls for future research to investigate the use of nostalgic reminiscence as an intervention to manage various existential threats among people with dementia.
Ismail, S. Nostalgia as a psychological resource for people with dementia. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/881525