Meaning and connections in older populations: A phenomenological study of reminiscence using "A Musical Chronology and the Emerging Life Song"




Somody, Catherine Fisher

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Extended life expectancy and a rapidly aging population increase the need for effective counseling techniques for older adults. Therapeutic reminiscence has been found to contribute to successful aging in a variety of ways, and music has been found to increase the effectiveness of reminiscence. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe the experiences of 6 older adults living in the community who participated in reminiscence using A Musical Chronology and the Emerging Life Song. This study includes a thorough description of the process and a leader's guide detailing steps for implementation. The 6 women volunteers were recruited from a senior community center in an urban area of south-central United States. They participated in 6 group sessions, reminiscing about their lives using meaningful music of their choice. They also used music to describe their current life themes and their hopes for the future. They then participated in individual interviews with the researcher and described their experience. All group sessions and interviews were recorded and transcribed. A thematic analysis of the data resulted in individual and group descriptions of the experience. Findings are discussed in relation to narrative therapy, relational-cultural theory, typologies of reminiscence, and theories of successful aging. Participants described multiple areas of growth including increased self-awareness and self-acceptance, the development of new relationships, increased comfort with being open and authentic in relationships, progress in dealing with grief, a renewed appreciation for life, and hope for the future.


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counseling, life review, music, older adults, phenomenology, reminiscence