Nostalgia At Age 65+: When Your Loved One Gets Caught Up In History

old car, nostalgia

“I don’t like nostalgia unless it’s mine.”

– Lou Reed

Nostalgia – defined as being homesick, or yearning for returning to a past period or irrecoverable condition – has an interesting history. What was once considered to be a severe disorder has now become a term for fondness.

Nostalgia, in today’s terms, is when you remember your childhood friendship, life as a teenager, or the plain ‘good old days’ and sigh. It usually isn’t too long before you’re back in the here-and-now. You don’t make much of the fleeting feeling and move on.

When your loved one gets emotional, though, it’s a different story. All of a sudden nostalgia seems way more serious and even dangerous. They get too caught up and are at risk of becoming depressed… You ask yourself if this is will harm them and start talking about the beautiful whether today.

Benefits of Nostalgia

You may be surprised to know that researchers actually [1] find nostalgia to be quite healthy. It “generates positive affect, increases self-esteem, fosters social connectedness, and alleviates existential threat.”

According to this article from Home Care Assistance, “there is comfort, healing, humor, and joy to be found in shared past experiences, regardless of whether they were good or bad.”

So, chasing your loved one’s memories away, may not be the best solution.

What Should you do Instead?

The next time your loved one starts telling you about ‘life,’ you may want to listen up and get interested. Simply, have a conversation. Don’t decide it is too much for them, based on your difficulty, alone. You should definitely be attuned to their reactions, but some fond memories of the past, probably isn’t a terrible concern.

If you are successful in allowing that conversation to happen, make sure to look beyond the tears and pay attention to your loved one’s composure, after the talk. You may be surprised.

How do you react when your loved one becomes nostalgic?

Please share in the comments below.

[1] Sedikides, Constantine, Tim Wildschut, Jamie Arndt, and Clay Routledge. “Nostalgia: Past, present, and future.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 17, no. 5 (2008): 304-307.

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