An intergenerational reminiscence programme for older adults with early dementia and youth volunteers: values and challenges

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Abstract

Scand J Caring Sci; 2009; 23; 259–264

An intergenerational reminiscence programme for older adults with early dementia and youth volunteers: values and challenges

Aim:

To examine the values of a reminiscence programme, adopting an intergenerational approach, on older persons with early dementia and youth volunteers.

Method:

A pre- and post- one group design was adopted. Forty-nine elderly participants with early dementia and 117 youth volunteers participated in the study. Each elderly participant was assigned to two youth participants. This dyad group participated in a 12-session reminiscence programme. The youth participants acted as facilitators to prompt the elderly participants to share and discuss past events and experiences, and to support them to fabricate a personalized life-story book. An occupational therapist provided ongoing support and monitoring. The elderly participants were evaluated by the Chinese version of Mini-mental State Examination, Quality of Life-Alzheimer's Disease (QoL-AD), and Chinese version of Geriatric Depression Scale (CGDS) before and after the programme. Dementia Quiz (DQ), Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and a 20-item feedback questionnaire on the programme were used to evaluate the youth participants.

Results:

Significant pre- and postprogramme differences were found for QoL-AD (mean change = −1.91; 95% CI = −3.18, −0.64) and CGDS (mean change = 1.86; 95% CI = 0.92, 2.80) among the elderly participants, and for DQ (mean change = −1.14; 95% CI = −2.11, −0.17) among the youth participants. Volunteers also showed positive appreciation of older persons and opined that this community service provided them an opportunity to reflect on their relationship with elderly relatives. Some volunteers, however, commented the heavy workload of the reminiscence programme.

Conclusion:

The intergenerational reminiscence programme suggests mutually beneficial values for both groups of participants. Whilst it is feasible to involve trained volunteers in the implementation of dementia-related programmes, it is essential that they are adequately trained and that ongoing support and monitoring are provided.

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