Encyclopedia of Geropsychology

Living Edition
| Editors: Nancy A. Pachana

Reminisce Interventions in Elderly People

Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-080-3_260-2



Reminiscence is the intentional or spontaneous process of retrieving episodes personally lived in the past. This retrieval of autobiographical memories may or may not have a logic or sequence in terms of the topics recalled. Understanding and evaluation are not an integral part of reminiscence, which tends to be highly spontaneous and mostly unstructured. On one hand, reminiscence can be regarded as a spontaneous phenomenon emerging in different settings, which forms part of many social and family events, providing people with the opportunity to relate episodes and/or tell their life history. On the other hand, especially in older adults, reminiscence can be used as a therapeutic intervention strategy in different fields, such as a prevention strategy for mental disorders or a way to promote mental health. Reminiscing past events can help a person feel more confident and self-assured when dealing with the...


Autobiographical Memory Neurocognitive Disorder Life Review Autobiographical Event Unresolved Conflict 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Berna, F., Schönknecht, P., Seidl, U., Toro, P., & Schröder, J. (2012). Episodic autobiographical memory in normal aging and mild cognitive impairment: A population based study. Psychiatry Research, 200, 807–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Birren, J. E., & Deutchman, D. E. (1991). Guiding autobiography groups for older adults: Exploring the fabric of life. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bohlmeijer, E., Valenkamp, M., Westerhof, G., Smit, F., & Cuijpers, P. (2005). Creative reminiscence as an early intervention for depression: Results of a pilot project. Aging & Mental Health, 9, 302–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Butler, R. N. (1963). The life review: An interpretation of reminiscence in the aged. Psychiatry, 26, 65–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carstensen, L. L., Fung, H. H., & Charles, S. T. (2003). Socioemotional selectivity theory and the regulation of emotion in the second half of life. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 103–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coleman, P. (1974). Measuring reminiscence characteristics from conversation as adaptive features of old age. International Journal of Aging and Human Development., 5, 281–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conway, M. A., & Pleydell-Pearce, C. W. (2000). The construction of autobiographical memories in the self-memory system. Psychological Review, 107, 261–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. de Medeiros, K., Kennedy, Q., Cole, T., Lindley, R., & O’ Hara, R. (2007). The impact of autobiographic writing on memory performance in older adults: A preliminary investigation. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 15(3), 257–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Friedman, D., & Johnson, R. (2014). Inefficient encoding as an explanation for age-related deficits in recollection-based processing. Journal of Psychophysiology, 28(3), 148–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kovach, C. (1990). Promise and problems in reminiscence research. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 16, 10–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Latorre, J. M., Serrano, J. P., Ros, L., Aguilar, M. J., & Navarro, B. (2008). Memoria autobiográfica, revisión de vida y emociones positivas en la vejez. In C. Vázquez & G. Hervás (Eds.), Psicología Positiva Aplicada (pp. 339–370). Bilbao: DDB.Google Scholar
  12. Latorre, J. M., Ricarte, J. J., Ros, L., Serrano, J. P., Navarro, B., & Aguilar, M. J. (2012). Performance in autobiographical memory of older adults with depression symptoms. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27, 167–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. LoGerfo, M. (1981). Three ways of reminiscence in theory and practice. International Journal of Aging and Human Development., 12, 39–48.Google Scholar
  14. Merriam, S. (1980). The concept and function of reminiscence: A review of the research. Gerontologist, 20, 604–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ros, L., Latorre, J. M., & Serrano, J. P. (2010). Working memory capacity and overgeneral autobiographical memory in young and older adults. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 17, 89–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Serrano, J. P., Latorre, J. M., & Gatz, M. (2007). Autobiographical memory in older adults with and without depressive symptoms. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 7, 41–57.Google Scholar
  17. Watt, L., & Wong, P. (1991). A taxonomy of reminiscence and therapeutic implications. Journal of Mental Health Counselling, 12, 270–278.Google Scholar
  18. Webster, J. (1993). Construction and validation of the reminiscence functions scale. Journal of Gerontology, 48, 256–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Webster, J. D., & Haight, B. K. (1995). Memory lane milestones: Progress in reminiscence definition and classification. In B. K. Haight & J. D. Webster (Eds.), The art and science of reminiscing: Theory, research, methods, and applications (pp. 273–286). Bristol: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  20. Webster, J. D., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Westerhof, G. J. (2010). Mapping the future of reminiscence: A conceptual guide for research and practice. Research on Aging, 32, 527–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Westerhof, J. W., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2014). Celebrating fifty years of research and applications in reminiscence and life review: State of the art and new directions. Journal of Aging Studies, 20, 107–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Westerhof, G. J., Bohlmeijer, E., & Webster, J. D. (2010). Reminiscence and mental health: A review of recent progress in theory, research, and intervention. Ageing and Society, 1, 1–25.Google Scholar
  23. Williams, J. M. G., Barnhofer, T., Crane, C., Herman, D., Raes, F., Watkins, E., et al. (2007). Autobiographical memory specificity and emotional disorder. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 122–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Woods, B., Spector, A., Jones, C., Orrell, M., Davies, S. (2005). Reminiscence therapy for dementia. Cochrane Database System Review, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and EducationUniversity of Beira InteriorCovilhãPortugal
  2. 2.UNIFAI.ICBAS and CINTESISUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Castilla-La ManchaAlbaceteSpain