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Psychodrama and the Elderly
Journal Title: FORUM 
Author/s: Dana Johnson 
Year:  2012 Issue: Language: English 
Pages:  20 Pg. 119-138 FullText PDF:  96 KB
DOI:  10.3280/FORU2012-005012
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Many elderly people, if not debilitated by brain disorders, are able to maintain a sense of wellbeing up until their final days. Others struggle deeply to find meaning. Personal histories and factors such as the impact of social and economic status, early experiences, health, family support and a sense of spirituality play important roles in determining elderly existential resilience. Apart from personal factors, most elderly share two common complaints: the experience of a burgeoning sense of inertia and the fear of being alone. These afflictions seem to grow in the last stage of life and they seem to be most prevalent in a nursing home environment. In the absence of a supportive family structure or weakened by frail health, many elderly are forced to turn to insitutionalised care as a final alternative. It is unfortunate that this alternative has such a dreary reputation, but not strange when even in the best of nursing homes, a sense of timelessness seems to pervade. Ideally, our nursing homes should provide, as well as good basic care, a forum for wrestling with the everpresent question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ - a question that changes radically and reaches a completely different kind of complexity when we grow old and can no longer move through the world as we once did. In this article, I describe how, psychodrama groups can assist the elderly person in transforming some of the challenges of the increasing sense of loneliness and meaninglessness that many institutionalized elderly endure this last stage of life. The examples presented are based on a weekly psychodrama group that was composed of members ranging from ages 75-94 years old. The five-year project1, funded by the city council of southern Stockholm2, has been a unique opportunity to question how a meaningful therapeutic exchange can help an institutionalised elderly person cope with aging and illness. All the names are fictitious and permission has been given for publication.

Dana Johnson, in "FORUM" 5/2012, pp. 119-138, DOI:10.3280/FORU2012-005012


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