The impact of a structured life review process on people with memory problems living in care homes
The following study describes an investigation into the impact of a life review intervention on individuals experiencing cognitive impairment who were living in care homes. Previous research into the effect of life review and reminiscence has been inconclusive. Various studies have found improvements in depression, selfesteem, and life satisfaction in individuals without cognitive impairment who have participated in these activities. Relatively little research has been carried out with people with cognitive impairment. Seventeen individuals took part in the study and were randomly allocated to one of two groups. Eight individuals entered the experimental group and participated in a structured, individual, life review intervention that culminated in the creation of a life story book. Nine individuals entered a no treatment control group and took part in the pre, post and follow up assessments only. Using four psychometric assessment scales, the two groups were compared on levels of depression, selfesteem, life satisfaction and autobiographical memory prior to, immediately after and at six weeks following completion of the life review. The quantitative results indicated a statistically significant improvement in the experimental group in depression and also in a particular aspect of autobiographical memory relating to the recall of personal factual information. Life satisfaction and self-esteem remained relatively stable throughout the study. Various limitations and strengths of the project anfl intervention model are discussed, as are a number of issues to consider when car7ing out this form of intervention with this population.