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The Activity Director's Office
Current Activities in Longterm Care
Kate Lynch, Editor
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How Things Change...
Reminiscence activity

Evidence suggests that the act of
reminiscing about the past, and being
able to share memories with others,
has a significant positive effect on the
mental and physical health of the elderly.

In particular, according to a recent review
study by researchers of the Australian
National University, Canberra, Australia, reminiscence is a valuable therapeutic
treatment for reducing depression.

With this activity, the men in your facility will love to tell about their adventures in
the “good ol’ days” while exploring how things have changed throughout the years.

Materials needed
Pictures of means of transportation of different types and eras, such as:
•        Ships.
•        Planes.
•        Trains.
•        Buses.
•        Cars.
•        Trucks.
You can easily find these on the Internet and print them out. The New York Public
Library, for example, provides free access to thousands of digital pictures,
including photographs of vintage means of transportation (http://digitalgallery.nypl.
org/nypldigital/index.cfm). Alternatively, you can consult the local library for
specialized magazines and books, ask family, friends and staff members, or check
the local antiques market.

Steps to follow
Before the activity, create the atmosphere by taping a few of the pictures around
the room.

Next, have participants sit in a circle and introduce themselves.

Distribute the pictures and invite the elders to use them to compare how means of
transportations have changed in the last 60 years.

You may want to start the discussion with a few key questions, like:

•        Think back to when you were young, were cars/planes/trains/etc. very
different from today?
•        Were they built with different materials?
•        Do you think they perform better today? Are they safer?
•        Can you remember brand names of old and/or new cars?
•        Do you remember the names of famous ships/planes/trains of the past?

Encourage the elders to share also their memories about personal experiences
with means of transportation. Ask them if they drove any of those pictured in the
photographs, how often they used the bus/car/train/etc. when they were young, to
go where, why, and with whom.

Before ending the session, ask the men if there is any topic they would like to
discuss in the same way in another session. For example, how a particular
profession, or a place, they are all familiar with has changed in the last decades.  

Plan the activity in preparation of a trip to a vintage car, or air, show, or to a
railroad museum.

1.        Frazer C.J., Christensen H., Griffiths K.M. “Effectiveness of treatments for
depression in older people,” The Medical Journal of Australia, June 20, 2005, 182
2.        Harrand A.J., Bollstetter J.J. “Developing a community-based reminiscence
group for the elderly,” Clinical Nurse Specialist, January 2000, 14(1):17-22.

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