Life review with people with dementia in care homes: A preliminary randomized controlled trial



  • There is little empirical evidence on the impact of reminiscence work in general, and life review therapy in particular, with people with dementia. People with mild to moderate cognitive impairment living in care homes were randomly allocated to a life review intervention (n=8) or a treatment as usual comparison condition (n=9). The intervention was carried out with people individually and culminated in the creation of a life story book detailing information from the reviewer's life. Measures of depression and autobiographical memory were taken for all participants at the pre, post and 6 week follow up assessment stages. The life review participants improved significantly more on the Geriatric Depression Scale short-form (group x time interaction F (2,15)=13.97; p=0.009), with a mean 3.25 point reduction in depression scores at the 6 week follow-up assessment; in contrast, depression scores of control participants showed no change. In comparison to the control group, the life review participants were also significantly more able to recall personal facts from their lives at follow up (group x time interaction F (2, 15) = 5.92; p=0.007). Case vignettes of the life review process and its impact are presented, and clinical issues discussed. Life review was often not an easy process for the participant, and is demanding of therapeutic skills in relation to the powerful emotions and feelings of loss it may elicit. The life story book was typically viewed positively, with the life review process and the therapeutic relationship valued at its completion. This study is the first to associate an improvement in autobiographical memory in dementia with a reminiscence intervention, and is indicative of a possible psychological therapy for depressed mood in dementia, which is believed to be highly prevalent in care homes. © 2012 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13

  • 9781614707363
  • Start Page

  • 43
  • End Page

  • 59