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A contextual examination of reminiscence functions in older African-Americans

TitleA contextual examination of reminiscence functions in older African-Americans
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsShellman, J, Ennis, E, Bailey-Addison, K
JournalJournal of Aging StudiesJournal of Aging Studies
Volume25
Pagination348-354
Date PublishedDec
ISBN Number0890-4065
Accession NumberPeer Reviewed Journal: 2011-20765-003
Keywords*Aging, *Blacks, *Mental Health, *Reminiscence, *Well Being, Gerontology [2860], Human Male Female Adulthood (18 yrs & older) Aged (65 yrs & older), reminiscence, older population, African Americans, mental health, well being, context, us
AbstractReminiscence functions have been shown to be associated with positive mental health and well-being in certain older adult populations. However, there is little known regarding the functions of reminiscence in older African-Americans. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived benefits and functions of reminiscence in a sample of community-dwelling older African-Americans. The purposive sample included African-American adults (N = 52) over the age of 60. Data were collected via focus groups and participant observations in senior centers and churches in an urban area in the Northeast. Participants' descriptions of the benefits and functions of reminiscence and researchers' journals were analyzed using immersion/crystallization technique as described by Borkan (1999). The following themes emerged from the data: 1) Something Like a Big Dictionary, 2) Moving On, 3) Fellowship, Faith and Family, 4) Teaching the Young and 5) A Brand New Knowledge of Ourselves. Using Webster's taxonomy of Reminiscence Functions to compare and contrast data, results provide contextual support for the reminiscence functions of: Identity, Teach/Inform, Intimacy Maintenance, Problem Solving, and Conversation in this sample of older African-Americans. These participants viewed reminiscing for Boredom Reduction, Bitterness Revival, and Death Preparation as negative and "leads to depression". These findings have implications for how reminiscence is facilitated with older African-American adults to improve their mental health and well-being. Implications for practice and future research are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract).
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