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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • elder care;
  • holistic care;
  • nurses;
  • nursing

Aims/objectives.  The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of group reminiscing on depression and self-transcendence of older women residing in an assisted living facility in southeast Texas. There were two major objectives for this study. One objective was to determine if depression decreased in older women after structured reminiscence group sessions held twice weekly for a six-week period. A second objective was to determine if self-transcendence increased after structured reminiscence group sessions held twice weekly for a six-week period.

Background.  Reminiscence has been studied to determine its impact on a variety of conditions including but not limited to depression, self-esteem, fatigue, isolation, socialization, well-being, language acquisition and cognitive functioning. This review of research specifically focused on reminiscence, depression, self-transcendence and older people.

Design/methods.  Two groups were assessed at baseline, three and six weeks to answer the research questions. A sample of 24 women between the ages of 72 and 96 years were randomly assigned to either a reminiscence (experimental) group or the activity (control) group of the facility. Pearson's r was used to determine the magnitude of the relationship between subjects’ responses on the Geriatric Depression Scale and the Self-Transcendence Scale. A mixed design analysis of variance (anova) was used to determine if there was a difference between the experimental and control groups on scores of the Geriatric Depression Scale and the Self-Transcendence Scale at baseline, three and six weeks.

Conclusions.  Data revealed a non-significant decrease in depression and increase in self-transcendence in the reminiscence group at the completion of six weeks, indicating a trend toward a positive result with reminiscence group sessions. The study also revealed an inverse relationship between depression and self-transcendence. These findings underscore the importance of screening older people for depression.

Relevance to clinical practice.  One of the primary modalities used for the treatment of depression in elderly women is medication. Antidepressant medications lead to harmful side effects without alleviating the underlying depression. For these reasons, there is a need to research alternative therapies for treatment of depression in the older female. Reminiscence offers a possible intervention for treatment of depression in older women.