Factors that bring meaning to mementos created by elders
Objectives: Reminiscing activity groups are commonly seen in various elder care settings This study addresses the impact of reminiscence activity groups, specifically a program where group members create their own mementos, on healthy Jewish elders’ sense of satisfaction and meaning. In particular, this research focused on the specific factors involved in creating the mementos themselves.
Method: In this mixed methods study, occupational therapy graduate students synthesized relevant aspects of commonly used activity analysis forms into a matrix to analyze the activities. From a pool of 30 activities, students chose seven representing many factors and levels of complexity. With a matrix composed of a Likert scale and open-ended questions, students and Jewish elders explored the elders’ perceptions of factors significantly related to their experiences when creating the seven mementos.
Results: Memento-making was most satisfying when elders were replicated in some way, such as with hand casting. Least satisfying activities were those that could lead to talents being appraised, such as painted self-portraits. Unanticipated factors such as social participation and educating others appeared to be as important as making the mementos themselves.
Conclusion: While the research questions were partially answered, factors such as meaning and creativity were difficult constructs to measure because they lacked clear definitions. However, this preliminary exploration supports the concept that the use of an activity analysis matrix can enable activities directors and occupational therapists to systematically ascertain which factors positively impact well-being and social participation to meet the unique needs of aging client populations.