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Holding on to who we are

UTA students document memories via digital storytelling

Illustration: Dan Page Collection

Illustration: Dan Page Collection

Our memories are the foundation of who we are, so what happens to us when we lose them? A gradual loss of identity occurs—one of the many heartbreaking aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. A team of UTA researchers aims to mitigate these devastating effects.

Through a $163,480 grant from the RRF Foundation for Aging, the team—led by Noelle Fields and Ling Xu, both associate professors in the School of Social Work—is exploring the impact of reminiscence therapy on those diagnosed with memory-ravaging diseases. The project pairs UTA students with elderly dementia patients to encourage them to engage in a therapeutic dialogue about their childhood and other memories. The students will then create digital projects that reimagine these memories in storytelling modes.

The team also includes Kathryn Daniel, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI); Daisha Cipher, associate professor in CONHI; and Brooke Troutman, a scholarly communications librarian.

The team hopes reminiscence therapy, combined with an intergenerational approach and digital storytelling, will help improve the social and emotional well-being of older adults.

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