Full Life Programs will expand and develop its Full Expressions discussion groups that give residents at senior care residences the opportunity to meet their needs for engagement. In the group, participants engage in rich sharing, with themselves as authorities of their experience, opinions, and responses to prompts from creative expression: art, music, and literature. We posit that this expression and the group’s freedom from judgment or criticism adds to participants well being, increases their engagement with their peers, and stimulates a high level of engagement that increases their socio-emotional well being. This is consistent with a recent “Engaged as We Age” study by the Sloane Foundation that showed that a high level of engagement, not simply participation in social activities, increases well being.

Full Life Programs has observed and received reports from family members and caregivers that this engagement stimulates positive feelings, motivation, engagement with others, and zest for life. Pilot group members showed increased interest in the group, ability to participate from personal experience and increasingly intimate reflections. They looked forward to the groups and talked about them between sessions according to staff at the residence.

Full Life Programs has begun informal research with its existing discussion group, and as it develops new groups in local counties, we will record examples of types of interactions that meet certain criteria explained below in “Theoretical Background.” At this point there are no validated research tools for this population. Data from tools validated for other types of situations or participants would lack validity. So we will be diligent in collecting qualitative data. We will tape record the groups, use a timer to keep a list of times that interchanges occur demonstrating examples of the upper four levels of Maslow’s hierarchy (see Theoretical Background, below) and note frequency, antecedents, and consequences. This data will be input, categorized, and analyzed.


Engaged as We Age, Sloan Center on Aging and Work, at Boston College: retrieved 12/21/2014

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