Florence Soltys_photoAt all stages of life, reminiscing or reviewing our past helps us understand who we are and find meaning in our existence. For older adults, sharing memories can be affirming and therapeutic, particularly in the face of monumental life transitions. Yet there is a bias in our youth-oriented culture that discounts this meaning-making activity with an unhealthy “dwelling in the past” or even senility. In this session, Florence Soltys presents “life review” as a powerful tool for healthy adaptation to the tasks of aging. When properly done, the sharing of memories helps individuals to accept loss, reduce depression, and increase their sense of identity, self-esteem and belonging. With examples from her work, Ms. Soltys illustrates how memories provide continuity and completeness, essential to the developmental tasks of older adulthood.

Florence Soltys, an associate clinical professor at three Schools at UNC-CH (social work, nursing, and medicine) is a leader in the field of aging. She is the recipient of an award for distinguished teaching and the Ned Brooks Award for Community Service. For the past twenty-some years, she has championed the rights of older adults both locally and nationally, as advocate, activist, researcher, educator, consultant, and practitioner. She has been an early and consistent champion of restraint-free facilities in North Carolina, spearheaded the Orange County Master Aging Plan, and is active on numerous Advisory Committees and Boards. She has served as Director of a center of bereavement services and launched the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Meals on Wheels program. She is currently president of the International Reminiscence and Life Review Society and of Orange Seniors, Inc (nonprofit). She has published widely on aging, including a forthcoming book, Reminiscing: Valuing and Enriching the Lives of Older Adults and served as the interviewer in the documentary film An Unlikely Friendship.