In Perlsteins (1992) view, the safety of the peer environment helps participants discover commonalities, receive support, and begin to redo patterns. Alert and Alive program has 12 sessions and each includes a presentation by a professional guest speaker and a discussion facilitated by volunteers, as well as a physical and mental wellness warm-up and a healthy snack. In line with the program goal of helping adults take charge of their own emotional well-being, the topics for the workshops are chosen on the basis of a survey of senior center members (Gatz, 1995).
A publication listing organizations that promote mental health and wellness, of the National Resource Center on Health Promotion and Aging (1991), briefly describes several programs. For example, Growing Wiser, a comprehensive mental wellness program developed by Healthwise in Boise, Idaho. The Realizing Opportunities for Self- Exploration (ROSE) program developed by Share DeCroix Bane is another example of a holistic program suitable for community living or institutionalized older adults.
Among the most common health-promotion groups are those designed to help older adults cope with transitions and losses. They are the life review and bereavement groups (Gatz,1995). Life Review Groups. Since Robert Butler (1963) first articulated the concept of life review, such groups have become an increasingly popular counseling intervention. Life review groups can encourage socialization, lead to a sense of self-worth and life satisfaction, and help alleviate loneliness, hopelessness, and depression.
The participants of life review groups reported that their present was enlivened by their memories, and experienced a newer, more open, and accepting or integrative attitude toward the past (Knight, 1996). Many organizations have developed programs for stimulating life reviews. For example, Bi-Folkal Productions have developed a series of reminiscence packages to stimulate memory sharing including photographs, music, stories, and old household items to use as triggers for reminiscences.
Haight (1992), after having reviewed 30 years of literature on reminiscing and life review, and having learned that it produced positive results, developed the Life Review and Experiencing Form (LREF) as the basis for a structured process of individual life review. The process involves six 1-hour interviews, plus pre-and post testing sessions to assess psychological well-being and psychological illness (National Mental Health Association Prevention Clearinghouse, n. d. ).
Bereavement groups. Old age is the period when a person goes through losses including a long-term partner, combined with the loss of social supports, which can constitute a threat to mental health and well-being. Research on bereavement find that grief is not a simple, universal process, with a progression of fixed stages and that we need a greater understanding of the heterogeneity of individual responses to loss. Interventions can be done at the individual, group and community levels.