Simply Listen to Create Meaning for Older Adults


Finding meaning in life is a cure for depression and other ills. This is the claim made by Neel Burton M.D. in his article Man's Search for Meaning where he reiterates Viktor Frankl's message of hope:

Even in the most absurd, painful, and dispiriting of

circumstances, life can be given a meaning, and so too

can suffering. Life in the concentration camp taught

Frankl that our main drive or motivation in life is neither

pleasure, as Freud had believed, nor power, as Adler had

believed, but meaning.

Finding meaning can assist as you age, during a time when you are increasingly likely to experience changes in relationships, health status and situational loss. Narrative care, listening to older adult's stories is a way to provide and maintain meaning that can further maintain mental well-being. Life review is one of the ways of practicing narrative care.

Matte Robinson is an English professor who unknowingly practiced narrative care which involves story telling and listening, when he carried out a life review with his ailing grandmother on film. "She’d tell these marvelous stories and she knew these were for great-grandchildren that she hadn’t met yet and none of us could believe how wonderful it was...It seemed to reinvigorate her".

Simply listening can be so valuable in assisting older adults who are in distress, lonely and grieving. In reality though, listening is not that simple. It is a skill that requires full, genuine attention. The person speaking needs to feel that they are being heard. Isn't that what you want when someone is listening to you? It is not just about simply listening. It is about being present and really listening. #AcknowledgeAssessAssist

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Updated May 2020

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