Living in aged care: Using spiritual reminiscence to enhance meaning in life for those with dementia

Elizabeth MacKinlay, Corinne Trevitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Spiritual reminiscence is a way of telling a life story with emphasis on meaning. Spiritual reminiscence can identify meaning associated with joy, sadness, anger, guilt, or regret. Exploring these issues in older age can help people to reframe some of these events and come to new understanding of the meaning and purpose of their lives. A total of 113 older adults with dementia, living in aged-care facilities, participated in this study. They were allocated to small groups for spiritual reminiscence, to meet weekly over 6 weeks or 6 months. Quantitative data were gathered using a behavioural scale before and after each spiritual reminiscence session. Qualitative data included taped and transcribed reminiscence sessions, individual interviews, and observer journals. A facilitator led the small-group discussion based on spiritual reminiscence. New relationships were developed among group members that improved life for these people in aged care. This paper examines aspects of the qualitative data around the themes of 'meaning in life' and 'vulnerability and transcendence'. Spiritual reminiscence offers nursing staff a way of knowing those with dementia in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-401
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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