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Reminiscence, regrets and activity in older people in residential care: Associations with psychological health


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Kevin McKee, Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7AU, UK (e-mail:


Background. Claims have been made of the benefits of reminiscence for older people's psychological health. The study reported here set out to determine whether measures of reminiscence, regrets, and activity participation would be associated with psychological health in older people, when age, dependency, self-reported health, and social well-being were controlled.

Design. Cross-sectional interview-based questionnaire survey

Methods. Older people living in residential and nursing homes (N=142) completed questionnaires that determined current levels of reminiscence, activity participation, and psychological health, while care staff recorded the participants' observed affect over the previous 2-week period.

Results. Multivariate analyses showed significant associations between reminiscence frequency, reminiscence enjoyment, and regrets, and psychological health outcomes, while controlling for age, dependency, self-reported health, and social well-being. While reminiscence enjoyment was associated with positive psychological health, high frequency of reminiscence and the presence of regrets were associated with negative psychological health.

Conclusions. The study findings are discussed with reference to Eriksonian theory, reminiscence functions, and the potential for reminiscence in psychological therapy for older people.