What is a “Life Story?”

A life story is a written, oral, or photographic documentary of your loved one’s life. It often includes biographical information from the time they were born (or before if you want to include some family history), through their current daily routine and preferences. It includes information about family, education, hobbies, occupation, courtship, marriage, children, civic involvement, spiritual journey, accomplishments, struggles, and significant life events.

How is a “Life Story” beneficial?

There are at least three ways a “Life Story” can be beneficial to you and your loved one. First, the process of creating a “Life Story” can be very therapeutic. A comprehensive life review provides the opportunity to celebrate life’s successes, work through regrets about failures, and contemplate life’s lessons along the way. Whether your loved one can actively participate in supplying details or if it is a task you and other family members create on their behalf, the opportunity to reminisce while gathering the information can make for some quality family time and create the opportunity for meaningful conversation.

A second benefit of producing a “life Story” is that you have created a very practical and useful tool for caregivers should your loved one require care from an outside agency or even for friends and family who may not know the details of your loved one’s life. The “Life Story” offers them useful information to use in conversation to pass time or to use in the course of the day as they provide care for your loved one. It helps them to establish a trusted relationship and gives them a picture of the person your loved one has been. This is especially important if they did not know your loved one before the memory problems started.

Finally, the life story creates an excellent keepsake for family members and serves as a remembrance of your loved one, preserving family history.

Resources

With today’s technology for photo and video production, it is easier than ever to record and mass produce life story documentation. Most of us carry the tools for audio and video recording in our pockets every day. A simple pen and paper continue to be effective for those who are less “technically” inclined.

There are resources available to create a more professional product if you choose. One local resource can be found online at www.celebrationsoflife.net. Others include www.Lifelegacyletter.com and www.mylifeaudio.com.

Whether you pursue professional assistance to create your loved one’s “Life Story” or you “do it yourself”. It will be well worth your time and effort to create this meaningful and useful tool and family keepsake.

Submitted by Janelle Johnson, Memory Care Specialist