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


MacKinlay, Elizabeth, Trevitt, Corinne


International Journal Of Mental Health Nursing, Volume: 19, No.: 6, Pages.: 394-401

Year of Publication



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 6weeks or 6months. 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.; © 2010 The Authors. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing © 2010 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.

Bibtex Citation

@article{MacKinlay_2010, doi = {10.1111/j.1447-0349.2010.00684.x}, url = {}, year = 2010, month = {nov}, publisher = {Wiley-Blackwell}, volume = {19}, number = {6}, pages = {394--401}, author = {Elizabeth MacKinlay and Corinne Trevitt}, title = {Living in aged care: Using spiritual reminiscence to enhance meaning in life for those with dementia}, journal = {International Journal of Mental Health Nursing} }


aged, aged, 80 and over, dementia, development, female, homes for the aged, humans, male, middle aged, neuropsychological tests, new, of, psychology, relationships, spiritual therapies, spirituality, therapy

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Cohort Study, Focus Group

Type of Outcomes



Long Term Residential Care without medically trained staff

Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Reminiscence and Anxiety Therapies