Thursday, December 23, 2010

Uncovering family history and the lessons from the past

Watch this incredible story from GrowingBolder.com about a woman who discovered her fathers' letters and realized what he and his family had endured during World War II. Touched by both the war in Europe and Asia too....amazing story.  Let this inspire you to pursue your own family history and the stories behind the people you love--while you have the chance.

http://growingbolder.com/media/relationships/family/discovery-of-a-lifetime-647090.html

Monday, December 20, 2010

How much we need our parents

I count myself very blessed to have my mother, father, mother-in-law, and father-in-law still with me. I am very conscious that they will not be with me forever. I suppose this fact of life and death may come to me more often than it does for most people--because I am trying to preserve thousands of people's life stories. Still, it hits me hard and I am often reminded that I'd like to do even more to capture the essence of these incredible people. I want my great-great grandchildren to somehow know their great-great-great grandparents. They are really worth knowing. I have recorded them, I have asked them to fill out our Memory Journal (and some of them have at least started filling out the book), and I take every opportunity to photograph them with me, with my children, with any of their grandchildren, and with my dog. I look into their eyes and I see so much love for me and my family. I enjoy their quirks, their remarks, and that way they think. I feel like I am learning things from them all the time. I want to remember my parents as much as possible for all time. Does anyone else feel the same way that I do?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Life Stories in Senior Living

Life stories are a vital part of knowing every resident and delivering the very best service and care. In fact, it is also a useful approach for home health, non-medical home care, hospice, and adult day programs. Community settings like CCRCs, active aging communities, or other types of senior living are the ideal place for capturing life stories. Here are a few ideas. We like the fact that people can work together and prime the pump of their memories in group classes. Also, in community settings, there are usually volunteers (adult or youth) who would like to get to know someone and they just need an easy approach to get the conversations started. One-on-one visits are also a great time for capturing life stories in senior living or skilled nursing facilities or other long term care settings. Finally, family members or other loved ones are sometimes at a loss for words or ideas for what to talk about, but, when Story Cards are provided by the community, the visits become longer and better for everyone. The whole process opens the door for new connection, new experiences, and more love. To know is to love--and that's the greatest gift of capturing life stories. Older people have so much to teach and share--let's not miss this opportunity.
Want more information on how to get started? info@lifebio.com or call 937-303-4576
www.lifebio.com/communities.htm

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Life Story Journal

The Life Story Journal contains 72 essential questions for writing your own life story or writing the life story of a loved one. Writing an autobiography is made easy with the Life Story Journal's "warm up" questions followed by questions on people, historical events, childhood memories, favorites, adulthood, beliefs, and life lessons. This journal is made for people of all ages and all backgrounds. It's also a great starting point for people who may want to publish a more extensive biography later. It primes the pump and opens the door to "new" memories.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

What makes a good gift?

What makes a good gift? In my opinion, great gifts have these 4 things in common.....

1) Good gifts are personalized gifts. The thought comes from the heart.
2) They are needed. They help the person receiving it to solve a problem.
3) They are FUN and maybe we learn something or experience something new when this gift enters our lives.
4) They have a "ripple effect" and impact not just the gift receiver but the family, friends, and loved ones maybe for years to come.

---Beth Sanders, http://www.lifebio.com/
Capture life stories....there's no time like the present and no better gift to the future

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wellness Trend -- Reminiscence

I'm at the ICAA Conference in San Diego today (speaking in about 2 hours). I'm going to talk about how wellness impacts ALL dimensions of wellness. With wellness directors especially looking for ways to address emotional and spiritual wellness in wellness programming, it is key to know that capturing life stories and bringing people together in GROUPS to share memories and experiences is a very powerful idea. With the shift from the medical model of caregiving to a wellness model, it is critical to deeply KNOW people in order to deliver the best possible service and care as people age.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ethical wills are growing in popularity judging by the news

Ethical wills have been in the news lately. Recent news stories in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fort Myers News Press, and the Naples Daily News describe the importance of an ethical will and different ways of accomplishing the goal of writing down values and beliefs....the treasures of the heart NOT just monetary treasures.

The Ethical Will Kit from LifeBio provides excellent sentence starters to help people with writing an ethical will without too much time or trouble. Obviously, you've got to think about what matters most to you, but the ethical will kit's template approach (similar to LifeBio's autobiography template) makes it easier by walking people through appropriate topics to write about (without having to read a lengthy book or taking a class or something).

There is no one else like YOU and your values and beliefs matter. Writing an ethical will has the power to open doors of new conversation with your family and friends. I would recommend that your ethical will be shared with your loved ones while you are living so people can ask questions and inquire about different things that happened in your past that shaped your opinions, values, and beliefs. Life is a good teacher and you've learned a thing or two along the way. We're all getting older and wiser. But regardless of age, there is peace in knowing that you've passed along the essence of who you are to your children and grandchildren. Every day is a gift so there's no sense in waiting to create an ethical will.

How to write an ethical will

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Gift of Life Stories - catch them while you can

Being surrounded by family the past few days reminds me of the fact that every life is amazingly unique. There is no one else like my Aunt Jane, my mother, or my father. No one like my sister or my brothers either. Their lives are a collection of the many people, places and adventures experienced.

During the last few days together over Thanksgiving, we've reminisced about our neighborhood, the paper route, and childhood friends. We've heard stories from dad's time in Vietnam, and chatted around my mother's latest puzzle (I haven't found a piece that fits yet). We sat by the wood stove and remembered all the wood we've carried and chopped over the years. We've looked through an old treasure box from Japan (where Aunt Jane was once a missionary). We remembered Grandma Stitzinger's yummy pumpkin pie while eating my sister's perfect duplication of the recipe.

My sister and I washed and dried a bunch of pots and pans--just like old times again. We got a phone call from Florida and it was Aunt Wilma, Uncle Buddy, and Aunt Ruth on three different phones. I listened in as they tried to remember (with a lot of laughs) exactly when their new high school was built and if it was 1954 when the whole school district changed it's name...plus something funny about someone putting an old metal stovepipe over their heads back when they were kids.

Meanwhile, the girls were busy doing makeovers in the spare bedroom (you should have seen my eye shadow and mom's teal nail polish). There was a house full of happy boys running circles around the house with C.C. the dog in hot pursuit. Later they all played Monopoly and Sardines....no doubt making their own memories that will last a lifetime. Sweet memories.
_____________________________________

As the holiday season continues, remember that life stories form a bridge between people of all ages. Watch as you and your loved ones experience more genuine connection and new conversations as life stories are shared. You may think that some of the things you have to share aren’t all that important or relevant. However, you may be surprised at how much other people will really appreciate this new information. Capture life’s experiences without delay (so they aren't lost or forgotten) and watch the stories and the love flow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Teaching Children How to Work: 3 Tips for Parents

It has always concerned me that I ensure my children are hard workers and that they have ample experience doing hard work. In fact, yesterday I was looking at a tree that had been cut down and the wood was left behind near our house. I thought, "Fantastic! My son will now have the excellent opportunity to chop that wood with an ax and carry it a long way. Now that's hard work and good exercise too!"

My daughter has done multiple work projects with the youth group at church. She knows all about shingles and roofing in general as a result. She knows about doing something as a volunteer and feeling good about helping someone else too.

My own work experience began in earnest when I was very young. At aroung age 7, my dad and I pulled 2 x 6 boards out of an old factory, Erie Plating Company, in Erie, PA. That took days and weeks to accomplish. Then all those boards end up stacked next to our garage. So the following summer, I was told that my job was to hammer out all the nails in those boards so we could reuse them. That took weeks and Dad expected results when he got home from work. After the wood was ready to be re-used, Dad and I and mom and my other siblings all built a new deck out of the old boards. It was a long process, but I was able to see the fruits of my labor and, boy, was I proud of that deck when it was finished!

Around the same time, I was also cleaning Asbury Elementary School with my dad in the evenings a couple of days a week. I was in charge of emptying the trash cans and filling up the toilet paper. That was hours of work and some late nights.

At age 9, Dad decided it was time for me to get a paper route. So for the next nine years I delivered the Erie Morning News with the help of my mom and my siblings. It was tough getting up every morning at 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. Even some Christmas mornings, on a Sunday, we had to deliver those darn papers and they were heavy. I suppose I learned that work had to happen no matter what and that laziness in our family was NOT an option. I could go on......there was work at the family farm, gathering wood for our heat, the chicken coop, oil changes, roofing projects, cutting down trees, building picnic tables, etc.

So I've had experienced hard work in my own life and I've had the privilege to teach my own children hard work. Here are 3 tips for parents on how to teach your children to work:

1) Start looking for more difficult work around the house. It's great that they are cleaning their rooms, washing the kitchen floor with a sponge, or vacuuming the living room, but that is not enough. Take it to another level that requires not only work but problem solving and creativity. Ask them to clean out a couple of junk drawers or a messy closet. Ask them to organize the craft cabinet, cupboards with pans, or the shelves in the basement. Ask them to remove everything from the garage and reorganize it. They can at least start doing these tasks on their own. Be there to jump in and answer questions or let them work alone for awhile and then be there to assist them to ensure they complete the goal. They must complete what they start. Failure is NOT an option.

2) Identify opportunities for them to have "hard work experiences". You are looking for big jobs. Jobs that take time and lots of energy. Jobs that seem like they will be impossible to complete, but then they are accomplished after working HARD. By the way, it's even better when you can have that hard work experience side by side with your kids (they will remember that day).  Help someone pack and move their house all day. Look for mission projects in your local area or week-long projects which require heavy lifting, uncomfortable conditions (roofing in TN in the heat of the summer for example), and LONG days. You see, if they don't spend ALL DAY doing hard work then they aren't going to feel the rewards of that experience. Once your kids get "hooked" on hard work, they are going to actually want to do it again. I'm telling you there's nothing like a delicious ice cream cone after a WHOLE DAY of work--truly that was the highlight of my day after working with dad. You'll swap stories and joke about all that was accomplished when the day is over.

3) Keep it real and make it happen. You can't make this stuff up. Be sure that the jobs you are doing are necessary and important. If you don't have enough stuff that needs to be done around the house, you are going to have to look elsewhere. You have got to be intentional or your kids are just going to play a lot of video games and sit around watching TV. I know you are busy with your own work, but I'm saying that you MUST invest in helping your children experience hard work through volunteer experiences, through a local charity/church, or by helping family members or neighbors. You don't want these kids living at home depending on you forever, right? You've got to make sure they learn to take initiative, they get hooked on hard work, and they SEE opportunities to make money, help people, and get a hard job done.

Now that I have my own company, LifeBio.com, I see how that hard work ingrained in me as a child is essential as a business owner. There are long hours, problems to solve, and a tenacity and personal satisfaction that only comes from working hard. That's what your children need right now. Teach them THAT and they will go far.

Beth Sanders
http://www.lifebio.com/

Ethical Will: A letter from the heart to your loved ones

Ethical wills are a way to share your love with family and close friends. Think of an ethical will as a heartfelt letter describing what truly matters most in your life. An ethical will passes on life lessons, values, advice, joys, prayers, hopes, and dreams for present and future generations.

Unlike a Last Will and Testament or a Living Will, an ethical will is NOT a legal document. An ethical will describes your treasures of the heart, not your treasures.

Why should you write your ethical will?

Quite simply, there is no one else like YOU! You have incredible wisdom and experience to share—no matter what your age or background. Your ethical will has the potential to affect multiple generations perhaps even hundreds of years from now. Therefore, an ethical will is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children and grandchildren.

Resources....

Ethical Will Kit from LifeBio.com

Ethical will: Chuck Jaffe is going to say what matters most

Chuck Jaffe explains how life's priorities changed after a recent health scare. Among other things.... he is going to write an ethical will.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/health-scare-puts-lifes-priorities-in-order-2010-11-21?pagenumber=1

Other resources....

Free Ethical Will

Write My Life Story

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why capture life stories?

YOU are unique. Every life is a collection of the many people, places and adventures experienced.


Only you can preserve priceless memories. No one else can share your autobiography but YOU. You grew up on a street somewhere. You had a favorite tree or hiding place perhaps. You can remember your parents, your grandparents, a special aunt or uncle. How did you celebrate holidays when you were a child or teenager? What was school like when you were young? Recall some of those priceless memories for yourself and for the people you love. You’ve got some good stories to tell and some of the simplest memories mean a lot.

Only you can share a lifetime of practical wisdom. Life is a good teacher, isn’t it? Every day of life has joys and challenges. We learn and grow along the way. Life isn’t always easy, but we all keep learning things as we go down that road. Other people have much to learn from your life story—good advice, beliefs, values. We’re all getting older (and hopefully wiser) every day. You can help your loved ones, family, and friends prepare for the future with your perspective on life so far.

Only you can provide your own personal glimpse into history. There is nothing better than learning history from an actual personal account instead of a history book. Do you remember a big event in the news, a new invention that revolutionized the world, a new household item that made life easier, a famous person who changed the course of history? It is fascinating to hear what YOU think is interesting from history. It’s amazing to have a chance to walk in your shoes and see the world from your unique perspective.

Only you can create a lasting record for generations to come. If things aren’t recorded, unfortunately they will be lost or forgotten. Some of you may wish you had a book with the life story of your grandparents or great-great grandparents to read. Maybe you’ve got some family genealogy records but who were these people? What made them tick? What was their essence? What was their story? Writing down some portions of your life story in a journal or recording your story via the web or via video will prevent those stories from being lost or forgotten. This process may also open the door for you to share your story with a younger person in your family (maybe one of your children, grandchildren, a niece or nephew perhaps).

As life stories form a bridge between people of all ages. Watch as you and your loved ones experience more genuine connection and new conversations as life stories are shared. You may think that some of the things you have to share aren’t all that important or relevant. However, you may be surprised at how much other people will really appreciate this new information. Capture life’s experiences without delay and watch the stories and the love flow.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Why retirement communities want to implement life story programming

Here are 18 great reasons retirement communities shared for wanting the award-winning reminiscence program from LifeBio.

1. Great opportunity for staff to connect with residents. It will assist our team in getting to know the resident they are caring for on a much more personal level.


2. So many life stories are being lost when people die. We learn many new things at memorial services unfortunately...when it is too late.

3. The families of the residents will one day wish they had the history of their loved one.

4. We have the most amazing residents who all have a story to tell. What a special way for them to share their legacies with their families and friends.

5. Just great stories that beg to be told and preserved! It will be exciting for our residents and staff!

6. So much great knowledge and wonderful life history to pass on to generations to come.

7. Expand the reminiscing we have done in the past and be more consistent and intentional.

8. Build the memory care program.

9. My community is family to each other and this enhances communication.

10. We are beginning to see the relevance of stories.

11. Improve our residents’ quality of life and enable our residents to pass along information from generation to generation that would otherwise be lost forever.

12. Every resident has a story and we want them to know it’s special.

13. LifeBio will dovetail beautifully with our goals as well as the mission of our organization to care for the whole person and give them a place of honor at life’s table.

14. Interested because of the cognitive status this program enhances.

15. It’s an amazing way to help our residents LIVE!

16. Unleash the power of connection and pass down wisdom.

17. Great way to learn about our residents---moving toward person-centered care. A wonderful tool.

18. Can better assist in their care/service plan, better quality of life, determine validation

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oral History Projects or Autobiography Projects in Libraries

We're hearing from libraries that are seeking ways to capture the life stories of the older members of the community. Libraries are the perfect setting for oral history projects. There can be autobiography classes or online autobiography licenses on writing life stories. There are great ways that intergenerational projects can happen in libraries as well.

For example, youth can help create Storyboards (an 18 x 24 colorful posterboard that can be populated with stories and photos) or fill out the Life Story Guide for older people. Again, the local library is a great setting for bringing people of all ages together for recording life stories. Even video recording using the first iPad app for video recording (download LifeBio Studio from the Apple App Store to try it out) can be employed to help libraries create simple but powerful videos of the older members of the community, and younger people can help with the recording. License agreements are available to make LifeBio available community wide. 

Autobiography is a natural extension of the work that libraries do with genealogy and family history projects. Libraries are also the perfect place to store the stories gathered for safe keeping now and in the future. In fact, we see a "legacy library" of hardcover books  (see the Legacy Book that is created by LifeBio pictured in this post) of community members' life stories being archived in libraries across the country and around the world. We encourage libraries to seek grant money and we have the tools to make it easier to bridge together the generations and promote better communication. After all, everyone has a story! Everyone could really write a book!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finishing the Race

My daughter ran in a cross country race this weekend. I was there cheering her on, but I noticed that her face said something was wrong. She wasn't physically in pain, yet something wasn't quite right. I kept cheering away from four different locations around the course. She finished the race with her personal record -- 22:09. Twenty two minutes and nine seconds in a 3.1 race. A very good time for sure! When she finished, she told me to look at her feet. There it was -- one red sneaker on one foot and one light green sock on the other. On the first turn of the race, another racer had stepped on the back of her sneaker by mistake and it came off. She had run at least 2.5 miles with just one shoe on. In fact, during the race, she had passed her shoe three times, but she didn't slow down or stop to pick it up. She just kept running. She didn't miss a beat. Nothing stopped her from reaching her goal. That's my girl!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Living in a Norman Rockwell painting

Sometimes living in Marysville, Ohio is like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Yesterday was one of those days. It was the annual Homecoming Parade which began with the marching band in red, white, and blue (my daughter was playing her trombone) followed by the homecoming court, the football players, the cheerleaders, then the junior sports teams (including my son's football team). The streets of downtown are lined with the old brick buildings that Germans built when they settled here in the 1800s. Families lined the street and little children gathered more candy than they will probably get Trick or Treating. My dog and I stood there watching the parade with my friends next to the barber shop and across the street from the old movie theater. It was a perfect fall day -- not too hot, not too cold, overcast but not raining. It's one of those days that Norman Rockwell would have loved to paint. I'll have to record it in the "sweet memory" category in my mind.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top 3 client gifts for 2011, thoughtful gifts from financial advisors to their clients

With the holidays right around the corner, what are some thoughtful, meaningful gifts you can give to your clients? Whether you are a financial planner, estate attorney, or insurance salesperson, you are seeking the best gifts to give to clients. Your clients have lived fascinating lives--running businesses, leading in the community, enjoying their children and grandchildren through the years. As an advisor to your clients, you are concerned about your clients financial legacy and their family legacy too.

Give gifts that have meaning. Give gifts that will be used long after the holidays. Here are 3 gift ideas to consider.


1) Memory Journal - 250 questions in a fill-in-the-blank 6 x 9 inch format. Beautiful, quality hardcover book for anyone to use to journal their lives so far....with plenty of room to keep writing as life continues to unfold!

2) Life Story Journal - 72 questions in a 8.5 x 11 sized workbook (paperback with coil binding). Some "warm up" questions that will be fun to discuss with your clients. Ample space to write.

3) LifeBio.com Membership - online autobiography template with all the questions found in the Memory Journal. For that "tech-savvy" customer OR for your clients' children and grandchildren. Get the whole family involved and collaborating on a parent or grandparent life story.

Reminiscence Therapy, Dr. Robert Butler

Dr. Robert Butler, who passed away July 4, 2010, is credited with the idea that reminiscing could be therapeutic. Butler, a psychiatrist with a specialty in geriatric medicine, first spoke of the idea of a "life review" in the 1960s. At the time, psychiatrists did not think it was a good idea for people to always be "living in the past", but Butler disagreed and made it clear that reminiscence was a natural process of healthy aging.

Reminiscence therapy covers a number of topics. Sometimes it is done in a group but people can do it one-on-one as well. There is a great deal of flexibility in the approach, but people typically describe...
The people who shaped their lives & their family members
Childhood memories and how history changed their lives
Transitions at different points of life
Love, marriage, children, grandchildren
The joys and challenges through the years

The #1 reason people reminisce is to teach and inform, but through reminiscence people can be reminded of their accomplishments, set some goals for the future, and come to terms with the past. Reminiscence therapy has also been found to lower depression and increase feelings of happiness, especially in older populations.

The relationships that form through reminiscence therapy can be another excellent outcome.
Tools for reminiscence therapy...
Life Story Journal
Memory Journal

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mayo Clinic article explains the importance of life stories for people with dementia

LifeBio has been working with the Mayo Clinic for the past couple of years providing our Life Story Journals for people with early-stage Alzheimer's to capture their stories and memories. Read in this article as Dr. Glenn Smith describes the importance of connecting and recording what matters most.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers/AZ00020/NSECTIONGROUP=2

Thursday, September 30, 2010

LifeBio: Laughter, friendship, and a "great sense of community"#links

LifeBio: Laughter, friendship, and a "great sense of community"#links

Laughter, friendship, and a "great sense of community"

I received this note from Jennie, life enrichment director....They have just completed their first Storyboards and had a LifeBio Celebration in health care.
________________
Beth,

Thank you so much for developing LifeBio. I cannot tell you how moving this experience has been for our community. Not only does it bring laughter, joy and smiles to many, it brings new friends together and a great sense of community. Thank you again for giving us this opportunity. You are a blessing.
Smiles,
Jennie

Daughter's experience with her father's LifeBio, sharing his Veteran's Story

I appreciated this note that I received from a woman who just ordered hardcover Legacy Books after typing in her father's memories at http://www.lifebio.com/.

Thank you so much for getting Dad's books to him. He got them yesterday and is very pleased with them. I asked him how he felt about writing it and he told me he just answered the questions I had sent him and he said "I sometimes felt I was bragging cause I'm just an average guy." He thinks the program is a nice thing and he wishes he would of recorded the stories his parents/grandparents had told him. His wife had a grandmother that lived in Russia during the Russian Revolution and she told her many stories when she was very young and now they are lost because she can't remember them. She, too, finds your program valuable and wishes her grandmother's story could have been recorded for the future generations of her family.

I love your LifeBio Program because it offers a few different options for people... It is a way for grandchildren to get to know members of their family they may not of met or even to see Grandma/Grandpa in a different light. Sometimes we forget that they weren't always old. I wish more people would do it with their parents because it really is a good way to bond with them. It was an honor for me to have my dad share his story with me. I really think it brought us even closer. Thank you for a wonderful way to record my dad's story for future generations of our family so they will not forget and to remind us that we all have a story to tell that makes us unique and not just another 'average guy'.

Barb Haak

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Ripple Effect of Love - Culture Change and Person-Centered Care

I work with a lot of senior living communities, assisted living, and skilled nursing homes across the US and Canada. I have found that you can feel the difference when you walk into a community that loves and respects every person in the building.

The ripple effect of love is very powerful when the director or administrator or other leaders in the community starts the waves and keep them going with a simple kind word, a genuine compliment, or smile every day. It will surely ripple over into the lives of families and residents over time. In a professional and caring way, his/her love and respect for the staff needs to be felt equally from laundry to nursing to activity director. Listen carefully to each other's needs and concerns and creative ideas. Help people feel appreciated no matter their pay scale. Everyone is in this together!

I can also see residents in these communities starting the ripple effect themselves. When they are caring and see the workers around them doing all they can to help, it is a wonderful thing too. It means a lot when residents are thankful and loving to the people who could be helping them with dressing or bathing or physical therapy. It is a two-way street, but the ripple effect must start somewhere.

Drop the pebble of love in the water, and watch the ripple effect begin.  That is true culture change.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Technology Changes Lives: Online Biographies Prove Useful for Person-Centered Care, Family Involvement, and Intergenerational Programming

LifeBio works with dozens of senior living and senior services organizations across the US and Canada. Here are 3 ways that technology impacts lives....

1. Person-centered care - How can people like Robert and Ruby be deeply known? Only by asking the right questions and exploring who people truly are. Life has been an incredible adventure full of people, places, and experiences. Capturing life stories gives us an opportunity to listen and learn and adapt life enrichment programming to what people would really enjoy the most. To know is to love. For example, as part of the LifeBio Certified Community program, communities are given licenses to LifeBio.com to capture the stories of residents in skilled nursing, AL, and IL. Tech-savvy residents do it themselves with a LifeBio.com membership provided. Family members or volunteers can also help by asking just a few questions. Type the answers online and watch a beautiful story unfold whether someone answers 10, 50, or 200 autobiography questions.

2. Family Involvement whether near or far - It's tough when family members aren't local, but collaborating via the web to build mom's story or grandpa's story is one great way that family CAN be involved--whether they live near or faraway. Now when Betty's daughter calls on Sunday night they can chat about Betty's childhood memories or about her wedding day. Less conversation about the weather, health, and breakfast. MORE conversation that is meaningful and building a stronger relationship. "What do I talk about?" is now no longer a problem.

3. Intergenerational Programming that works - Older adults are a wealth of wisdom and experience. It's just a matter of building a little bridge to connect them with local high schoolers or local college students. Youth are open to REAL relationships. Imagine--eye-to-eye, face-to-face communication--not just texting. And they love technology! So use that to everyone's advantage. Also, Baby Boomers are seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities. Use the computer in your community's library to bring the generations together. What a beautiful relationship will unfold as questions are asked and the biography builds with every visit. Grandchildren could be helping too of course!
Every person is amazingly unique with extraordinary stories to share. Communities focused on person-centered care and using technology to their advantage will transform lives.
How LifeBio works in different areas:

• INDEPENDENT LIVING - Computer-savvy residents and their family members will enjoy accessing LifeBio.com to type their autobiographies online. The LifeBio 101 autobiography class uses the Life Story Journal and class guidebooks to capture life stories in a group setting during 8 weeks of lively discussions. The hippocampus area of the brain is put to work---recalling interesting people, events, memories, and life lessons through the years. The class also offers meaningful social engagement and challenging learning.

• ASSISTED LIVING - Assisted living residents could volunteer to work with local high school or college students who will capture their stories at www.lifebio.com. LifeBio's Story Cards provide just the right questions for weekly reminiscence discussion groups. Also, the LifeBio 101 classes have been used in small groups of 3-5 people in assisted living. Research shows that basic writing and reading outloud stimulates the frontal cortex of the brain--so residents are encouraged to write even short sentences (if possible) and read back what they have written. Neighbors become true friends.

• MEMORY CARE - LifeBio's MemoryBio curriculum is available on the web or in book form. It has 35 interesting topics for discussion with over 200 brilliantly-colorful photographs and thought-provoking, simple questions provided for staff members, family, or volunteers to use for conversation starters. Now MemoryBio can also be projected onto a large screen for groups. Answers are sometimes recorded in special journals.

• SKILLED NURSING/REHABILITATION and HOME HEALTH/HOSPICE CARE -
One-on-one visits are enhanced with capturing memories at www.lifebio.com or using Story Cards, the Life Story Journal, or the Memory Journal. Also, adult or youth volunteers enjoy interviewing residents and creating a Storyboard with photos and memories displayed to celebrate people's interesting lives. LifeBio is great for speech and occupational therapy too. Typing, writing, and speaking skills are improved.

LifeBio impacts ALL areas and helps your overall operations

Monday, September 13, 2010

3 tools for using reminiscence therapy with hospice patients

Autobiographies of hospice patients, biographies of hospice patients, life stories of hospice patients

There is growing interest in reminiscence therapy or narrative care in hospice care. Reminiscence is proven to lower depression, lower physical pain, and increase happiness in study after study. Hospice patients would benefit from a process that provides some structure for creating a lasting legacy. These tools for reminiscence therapy could be used in hospitals, hospice care organizations, or in long term care settings. Reminiscence works for people of all ages and it builds a bridge between younger and older generations too.


A holistic approach to care is key; the mind body connection cannot be discounted. To that end, here are three proven tools for reminiscence therapy. There is also the option to become LifeBio Certified  and gain access to the below resources and additional resources and training.  

1) The Life Story Journal - a simple 72-question autobiography tool with warm up questions leading into background on the people who shaped one's life, historical events, childhood memories, growing up, adulthood memories, and a sharing of beliefs and values. $14.95 (quantity discounts are available) large print available






2) LifeBio Storyboard - An 18-x 24 inch poster that provides a template for creating a beautiful display about a person's life story. When time is of the essence, the storyboard can be the perfect option. The visual nature of it makes it something that all ages can enjoy building. It can be a great way to involve the family in improving the care delivered to a loved one. When caregivers know the person, they can love and care more. Just incorporate 3-7 pictures and some text about the person's life experiences. Storyboards can be displayed at life celebrations.  $14.95 (quantity discounts are available).


3) LifeBio Membership - Online template with over 250+ oral history questions about one's life. It is a complete and thought-provoking process. This template helps people write what family and friends would like to read. You can even generate a hardcover, leather-bound edition of the Legacy Book at the end of the online process or print out the pages on your own printer. Families collaborate to write a biography of a parent or grandparent. Even if someone lives far away, they can call a parent or grandparent on the phone and ask an excellent question and learn something new! ($19.95 lifetime membership)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

ICAA provides successful programs for older adults & LifeBio is on the list

LifeBio is pleased to be included in the International Council on Active Aging's (ICAA) list of successful programs for older adults. To see the complete list, click here....

Best wellness programs for older adults

If you are seeking activities for seniors, please call LifeBio at 1-866-543-3246 or email info@lifebio.com.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Financial Advisor, Gift Ideas for Clients

With the holidays right around the corner, what are some thoughtful, meaningful gifts you can give to your clients? Your clients have lived fascinating lives--running businesses, leading in the community, enjoying their children and grandchildren through the years. As a financial planner, you are concerned about your clients financial legacy and their family legacy too. Here are 4 gift ideas to consider:

1) Memory Gift Box

2) Memory Journal

3) Life Story Journal

4) LifeBio.com Membership

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to conduct an oral history recording

I've done many phone interviews or in-person video interviews with clients so let me share a few oral history tips from my experience. But first a word of encouragement. There is nothing like getting to know another person deeply. I would urge you to interview a relative, friend, or neighbor. Create an oral history recording as a volunteer service project. Just be sure you do it without delay.

L = Listen. Listen carefully and be patient. Try not to interrupt and don't draw attention away from the person you are interviewing--especially if the interview is being recorded. You may have a follow-up question you want to ask, but stay quiet as much as possible. There could be pauses as your storyteller thinks about what he or she wants to say. When your subject has finished his or her thought, it will be a good time to ask the next planned or impromptu follow-up question. (The Life Story Journal would provide great questions to help you get started.)

I = Investigation. In preparation for the interview, be sure to talk casually to get to know the person you are going to interview prior to the recording. This will help you gain a sense of what direction the interview may go. Also, ask other people about the person you are interviewing. For example, if you are going to interview a senior community resident, ask people that live or work there is there are stories this person likes to tell. You can incorporate these into your interview. If your subject is a World War II veteran, it would be a good idea to know about the time and place where he or she served so you can research it in advance.

F = Find Values. Behind many stories is a hidden or not-so-hidden value. See if you can draw out the deeper meaning of what your storyteller is remembering. Was this person encouraged to go to college since he or she was a small child? Education was most likely an important family value. Families may value religious beliefs, equality for all people, or public service. Many times a person being interviewed may not really think about his or her family values being part of the stories. You can help them make the connection between memories and values, thereby making the interview have even more impact.

E = Emotions. Be ready for the possibility that emotions may be uncovered as stories from the past are told. It's been said that, "Eyes are the windows of the soul." You may ask a question that touches someone very deeply. Your subject may want to talk through why they feel so strongly, and they are counting on you to be a good listener. You may also find that your subject would rather not talk about certain topics and that's okay too. Regardless, it is always a good idea to have a box of Kleenex on hand during an interview in case tears of happiness or sadness do come.

B = Be Prepared. If you are using recording equipment, test and ensure your recording equipment (web access, audiotape, videotape, digital recording equipment) is working properly. Ensure that you have a comfortable, quiet place to conduct the interview. Turn off the phone, TV, or other potential distractions, and ensure that other people will not be interrupting. Have some blank paper and pencils/pens for jotting down follow-up questions that come to mind during the interview.

I = Interest. Express interest in the person you are interviewing. The smile on your face and the light in your eyes will encourage the person to keep talking. Some people think their average life isn't interesting, but you can convince them otherwise by your response to their stories and experiences. Everyone has a story to tell, and extraordinary things do happen to ordinary people. Through sharing memories, the person may see all that they have accomplished and see the "big picture" view of his or her life.

O = Open-Ended Style. Open-ended questions (like those found in LifeBio's Life Story Journal, Memory Journal, or at LifeBio's online template) should lead the person you are interviewing to explain their memories or experiences in more detail, resulting in very few, if any, basic yes or no answers. If a subject answers a question very briefly and you think he or she should elaborate, a good follow-up question might begin with "How..." or "Why?" The DETAILS of his or her stories should come through with these types of follow-up questions.

Also, be Open to what may happen in the interview. You may not get through all the questions you planned, or you may find your subject has much to say about one particular topic. You may also need to help your subject stay on track through the structure of your interview. It's important to go with the flow and have fun too!

For more help or information or ideas or a journal with questions to help you get started, please call 1-866-543-3246 or email us at LifeBio at info@lifebio.com. http://www.lifebio.com/.

Reminiscence Therapy for Recreation Therapy

Reminiscence therapy activities, life stories for activities

There is growing interest in reminiscence therapy or narrative care in senior living and long term care health care settings. A holistic approach to care is key; the mind body connection cannot be discounted. To that end, here are four proven and universal tools for reminiscence therapy. There is also the option to become a LifeBio Certified Community and gain access to all the below resources.


1) The Life Story Journal - a 72-question autobiography tool with warm up questions leading into background on the people who shaped one's life, historical events, childhood memories, growing up, adulthood memories, and a sharing of beliefs and values. $14.95 (quantity discounts are available)



2) LifeBio Storyboard - An 18-x 24 inch poster that provides a template for creating a beautiful display about a person's life story. Useful for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, memory care, and more. It can be a great way to involve the family in improving the care delivered to an aging loved one. When caregivers know the person, they can love and care more. Life celebration displays or birthdays are a great time for storyboards to be used. $14.95 (quantity discounts are available)

3) The Story of My Treasures - Record 30 objects, photos, keepsakes, or other treasures that matter. Tell the life story behind this treasure. An excellent tool for someone moving from his or her home who will not be able to keep everything. This book will help them remember and celebrate the treasures for all time. $12.95

4) LifeBio Membership - Online template with over 250+ oral history questions about one's life. It is a complete and thought-provoking process. This template helps people write what family and friends would like to read. You can even generate a hardcover, leather-bound edition of the Legacy Book at the end of the online process. Families collaborate to write a biography of a parent or grandparent. Even if someone lives far away, they can call a parent or grandparent on the phone and ask an excellent question and learn something new!
Reminiscence is proven to lower depression, lower physical pain, and increase happiness. Many older adults would benefit from the process these tools for reminiscence therapy could be used in clinical psychology or more social settings such as senior centers, long-term care activities, or senior living. Reminiscence is great for people of all ages and it builds a bridge between younger and older generations too.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

4 reminiscence therapy tools

There is growing interest in reminiscence therapy or narrative care in health care settings. A holistic approach to care is key; the mind body connection cannot be discounted. To that end, here are four proven and universal tools for reminiscence therapy.

1) The Life Story Journal - a 72-question autobiography tool with warm up questions leading into background on the people who shaped one's life, historical events, childhood memories, growing up, adulthood memories, and a sharing of beliefs and values. $14.95 (quantity discounts are available)

2) Storyboard - An 18-x 24 inch poster that provides a template for creating a beautiful display about a person's life story. Useful for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, memory care, and more. It can be a great way to involve the family in improving the care delivered to an aging loved one. When caregivers know the person, they can love and care more. Life celebration displays or birthdays are a great time for storyboards to be used.

3) The Story of My Treasures - Record 30 objects, photos, keepsakes, or other treasures that matter. Tell the life story behind this treasure. An excellent tool for someone moving from his or her home who will not be able to keep everything. This book will help them remember and celebrate the treasures for all time.

4) LifeBio.com - Online template with over 250+ oral history questions about one's life. It is a complete and thought-provoking process. This template helps people write what family and friends would like to read. You can even generate a hardcover, leather-bound edition of the Legacy Book at the end of the online process. Families collaborate to write a biography of a parent or grandparent. Even if someone lives far away, they can call a parent or grandparent on the phone and ask an excellent question and learn something new!

Reminiscence is proven to lower depression, lower physical pain, and increase happiness. Many older adults would benefit from the process these tools for reminiscence therapy could be used in clinical psychology or more social settings such as senior centers, long-term care activities, or senior living. Reminiscence is great for people of all ages and it builds a bridge between younger and older generations too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Great Depression and The Great Recession


I suppose things could be worse.

It always amazes me to hear the life stories of people who lived during the Great Depression. The Greatest Generation grew up in those tough times. In Texas, they tell me about crawling through fields picking cotton as babes. In Minnesota, it is a similar story but they are picking potatoes. If they could earn just a few more pennies for their family's needs, they certainly did it. Once in a great while, they got to buy a piece of candy with those extra pennies.

Tractors didn't really become typical on farms until the late 40s or early 50s, so many 85-90 years learned how to drive horses on the farm to prepare and plant the fields. One gentleman told me that when he was seven years old, he heard a tractor engine for the first time and it was "music to my ears."

Country life was tough but so was life in the big city. I've heard stories of little 5-year-old boys raising themselves on the streets of Philadelphia. Their parents were hard at work in the sweat shops. Every day was about survival; that left some children to fend for themselves with tired grandparents half watching them.

Toys were simple--sticks, rocks, sock puppets, rag dolls. I asked the question once in a nursing home, "Tell me your favorite memory of a bicycle." About half the group never had one! The family may not have been able to afford it. Some had used one bike that was shared by many in their neighborhood or amongst their siblings. That was a shock to me. Every kid I knew growing up had a bicycle.

During the Great Recession that seems to be continuing through 2010, I suggest that people may want to connect with someone who lived through the Great Depression. There is wisdom there. They are accustomed to growing up without things that really didn't matter. Luxuries that we take for granted; they never had. Many had only the love of their family and friends to hold things together.

As we text our friends or connect on Facebook, the Greatest Generation (survivors of the Great Depression) are ready to be eye-to-eye, face-to-face, hand-to-hand teaching us about how to get by when times are tough. Listen and learn about what really matters--love and people matter. There words about the past can give us strength for our present and future.

Life Story Journal

www.lifebio.com/communities.htm

Friday, July 23, 2010

Real Stories of America: Irving Carlson

Irving Carlson, age 90, shares about his life as a farmer in Minnesota. He took the "Real Stories of America: 10-Minute Biography Challenge" in June 2010. Watch the video by clicking below...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72fYsx2tt3g

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Creating a Legacy


Writing down your memories helps to create a legacy. There is no one else like you. Only you can share your story and your legacy with your children and grandchildren. So what are you waiting for? Share the people who came before you, share your joys and challenges in life, share your accomplishments, share what your children and grandchildren mean to you. Share your faith and your values. Share your hopes and your concerns. Share your love and say it from the heart. For all time. If it isn't recorded, it will be lost or forgotten guaranteed. Every day is a gift and this is a wonderful day to begin creating a memory book or an ethical will (heartfelt letter) for your family and friends.

Need help? Visit http://www.lifebio.com/ and click on "shop" on the blue bar.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life Story Journal

LifeBio's new Life Story Journal will make it easier than ever for people to capture their life stories. It begins with some thought-provoking "warm up" questions and then proceeds with questions in a thought-provoking autobiography template on the people in your life, childhood memories, favorites as a child or teen, historical events, military service, love, marriage, children, grandchildren, hobbies, friendship, faith, values, life lessons, and more.

how to write an autobiography
The Life Story Journal works to help an individual write a life story but it is also great for interviewing grandma or interviewing grandpa or recording the life story of mom or dad.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why Reminisce? Activity Ideas for Retirement Communities and Nursing Homes

intergenerational program for assisted living
Here are 3 reasons why some activity directors may hold back from beginning a reminiscence program.

1. Reminiscing is so “old fashioned” – shouldn’t we just focus on the future?
The power of story helps people to build authentic relationships. When they have just moved in to a community or even if they have lived there for a while, people benefit greatly if they can develop closer, more meaningful friendships through life stories. LifeBio’s Story Cards are a simple way for people to have conversations that don’t involve the weather, health, sports, and food. LifeBio provides an activity connection by opening a door to new conversations and people realize how fascinating and accomplished the people are around them. LifeBio 101 classes help residents get to know other residents, staff, family members, and even prospective residents. People realize what they have in common – they can enjoy their future together more if they actually KNOW each other at more than surface level. When people know each other, it helps them experience more genuine love, hope, and peace. It helps the staff deliver better service and care too.

2. Why reminisce—isn’t that just dredging up old losses and causing more grief and pain?
Everyone has “sweet and sour memories”. Everyone has had multiple losses in their lives. The problem comes when people have no way to express these emotions. If people are forced to retreat to their rooms when they feel sadness and anger, they will continue to harbor these feelings. We find that people in LifeBio group classes have a chance to recall many positive experiences, review many accomplishments (validating their lives), and they realize that they are not ALONE. Everyone has experienced plenty of joy but also periods of pain too. There is something comforting in knowing that you’re not the only one who is feeling these emotions.

3. Reminiscing has been and “old school” activity for many years. What’s different now?
Yes, shadowboxes have been in memory care areas and activity directors have used Reminisce Magazine for discussions for years. What’s different now is a focus on lifelong learning (LifeBio 101 classes), brain fitness (working the hippocampus of the brain where memory is stored), exploring new technology (www.lifebio.com), and achieving higher resident and family satisfaction(expectations are high—management is realizing they must really KNOW people to deliver the very best service and care). LifeBio helps people achieve the goal of creating a biography in their own words—enriching lives in the process. Every person is unique. Communities are focused on person-centered care now and individualizing what they do more is KEY. LifeBio helps them accomplish this BIG goal.

For more info, contact Beth Sanders at 937-303-4574 or email bsanders@lifebio.com

Friday, July 02, 2010

Brain fitness and reminiscence grows to address an aging population

There is increasing interest in brain fitness and reminiscence because of the need to stimulate the hippocampus area of the brain (where memory is stored) and the prefrontal cortex (where executive functions, reasoning, internal goal setting, personality, and decision making happens). One or both regions of the brain are typically impacted with Alzheimer's disease.

Cognitive or brain fitness computer systems are now in place in thousands of senior living communities across the country. But retirement community activity directors or life enrichment directors have also begun embracing brain fitness ideas that are not just on the computer -- especially effective for the large percentage that isn't particularly interested in sitting in front of a computer with headphones on. Instead or in addition to brain fitness computers, a growing number are implementing LifeBio's reminiscence program which includes Life Story Journals, Storyboards, Story Cards, and 8-week classes that can be offered on the campus. In addition, for those who are computer savvy, there is also access granted to special areas of http://www.lifebio.com/ with online access to MemoryBio materials (for Alzheimer's and dementia care) and the online autobiography template too.

A new study this fall will show outcomes from LifeBio's approach, but there is clear feedback from the older adults in the LifeBio program that brain fitness and reminiscence are a logical pairing. Because it's an enjoyable experience, we also see an increase in happiness and social engagement as part of the benefits.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Narrative care, narrative medicine, tools for building relationships and biographies

LifeBio is honored to have become familiar with the work of Dr. Bill Randall and Dr. Gary Kenyon, both professors of gerontology at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada. There definition of narrative care is as follows:

"'Narrative care' begins and ends by honouring the lived experience, or the story, of the person receiving help. Narrative care is therefore "core care". In conjunction with St. Thomas University, LifeBio's autobiography tools have been employed at York Manor, a nursing home in Fredericton, New Brunswick to support the community's efforts to employ narrative care.

Another leading expert in the field of narrative is Dr. Rita Charon at Columbia University. In the fall of 2009, Columbia University launched their new and innovative program in narrative medicine. According to the New York Times, "Through literature, she learned how stories are built and told, and translated that to listening to, and better understanding, patients. She could let them tell their own stories without interruptions and see how people described their symptoms as part of the larger story of their life."


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/education/edlife/03narrative.html?emc=eta1
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/education/edlife/03intro-t.html?ref=edlife

With LifeBio's work with the Mayo Clinic, York Manor, and dozens of nursing homes and long term care facilities, we see huge growth ahead in the field of narrative medicine and narrative care. LifeBio has the tools to accomplish the goal of knowing the patient and the people -- this can only improve the delivery of service and care.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Justifying the Cost of LifeBio in Senior Living or Active Aging Communities

What does it cost you…
1) When someone moves out because they never felt connected and didn’t build any new friendships.
2) When someone moves out because the family didn’t feel you really knew their loved one as well as you could or should.
3) When someone is depressed because the family doesn’t visit as often as he or she wishes or the family members only stay only briefly when they come to visit.
4) When you don’t have the latest, greatest innovative programming for brain fitness, lifelong learning, technology innovation, and memory care that other communities have – so the competition wins.
5) When your efforts to promote person-centered care still aren’t helping you individualize service and care as much as you would like. How will you take it to the next level?
6) When your outreach/marketing efforts are the “same old, same old” approaches that may be losing their advantage.
7) When volunteers are coming to you but you can’t engage them or keep them involved as much as you would like.
8) When employee turnover happens because people don’t feel a meaningful and strong connection to the people and this place.

LifeBio can help in ALL of the above areas! Call 1-866-LIFEBIO or email info@lifebio.com.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reinventing activity programs in long term care

How do we keep "activities" REAL? What are some next generation activities that aren't the "same old, same old"? How do we excel at life enrichment? Is it possible to help people achieve happiness and wellness--even when the physical body doesn't want to cooperate anymore? Here are four things I suggest activity directors, life enrichment directors, or therapeutic recreation directors focus on. What are your thoughts?

1. Keep normalcy in everyday life.  Guard and prevent institutional, medical approaches from encroaching on normal life. I was in a community recently and I participated in a poetry group in the memory care area of the building. This poetry class happens only once a week--everyone looks forward to it. During the one hour of class, two out of eight people were taken out of class for a podiatrist to check their feet. This special time was interrupted unnecessarily by the medical team. Frankly, if the community's focus is on wellness, the poetry class is probably more important than foot care. Stand up and protect these special social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual experiences from medical interruptions. They can wait.

2. Walk in people's shoes. One-on-one visits are a chance for two friends to talk with one another...to learn from each other and to really listen to each other. It's important to ensure that family, staff, volunteers, and you are seeing the whole person (not a patient, a person). We can't judge a book by its cover. We can't let ageism creap into life in the community. We need to really open the book and read the whole, fascinating life story. Embrace the journey--walk in people's unique shoes, understand who they are and where they've come from. Celebrate life everyday.

3. Concentrate on what people CAN do. For example, I think that people who have lived a long life but now find themselves in long term care have MUCH to give. For example, many older people understand the power of prayer and they use it--they don't need to have legs or eyes that work to pray for those around them. I've been in communities where I can really feel that power around me and it makes a positive difference. Realize that some people may be spending time alone intentionally to pray, to meditate, to read and remember their favorite scriptures or songs. Also, while physical possessions might be fading in importance, older people are carrying with them wisdom and values that are essential to pass on to the next generation. Unfortunately, in too many communities, younger generations are not connected to receive the wisdom that's sitting there or standing there waiting for them (even grandchildren and great-grandchildren don't really have the chance to truly know their grandparents deeply). Activities directors and life enrichment directors have the distinct privilege to bridge the generations together as much as possible.

4. Help people realize their dreams. I concentrate on people's life stories because I think the past and present holds the keys to the future. Recently an 80-year-old man finished his LifeBio with the help of his daughter and he shared that he's always felt there was music inside of him but it has never been expressed. It's like he should have taken piano or guitar lessons and it just never happened. The time has come for those lessons to happen NOW. Authentic activity directors could also be called "wish granters" or "dream makers" or "happiness coaches" in my opinion. The genuine heart-to-heart conversations are going to reveal the dream that still needs to be fulfilled. Has Betty always wanted to start her own business and sell her quilts on the internet?  Has Joy wanted to raise $10,000 for her favorite charity, a homeless shelter in town? Has Glen longed to see the World War II Memorial in Washington? With the power of community connecting residents, staff, family, and volunteers, there is no telling what BIG dreams could happen together.

So tell me what you think the future is for community life, life enrichment, therapeutic recreation, or activity programming? If we're brainstorming, it just might happen!

Beth Sanders, Founder & CEO, LifeBio.com 1-866-LIFEBIO, bsanders@lifebio.com

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Memory Care Program Tips

Senior living communities, retirement communities, assisted living, skilled nursing, adult day programs, and other organizations have a growing interest and need to enhance or add memory care programs to their offerings. Here are four tips to consider for your memory care program of the future...

1) RE-THINK your memory care program and "RE-INVENT" without delay - Beyond meeting the physical needs of a person with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, the community must look at the robustness and effectiveness of the memory care program. Some communities have a wealth of activities but are the activities really engaging for someone with dementia? Weekly entertainers, BINGO groups, and a Connect 4 or checkers board just don't cut it. How are you connecting eye-to-eye, face-to-face, hand-to-hand to be a true friend? How is the community addressing all the dimensions of wellness in the life of a person who is having difficulty remembering? How can the community stimulate the brain and try to build cognitive reserve or try to lessen memory loss? One good idea is to ensure that reminiscence programming is in place that will be engaging, address all dimensions of wellness, and stimulate the brain. Using all the senses and touching memories, looking at pictures that stimulate discussions, and asking people to share their own personal life experiences. Ensure that conversations in the community aren't just "chit chat" about weather, health, sports, and food. Instead ask, "Do you remember your first bike?" or "Did you have a paper route when you were a kid?" Take the conversation to a whole new level that isn't in the present moment.

2. RECORD the life story. Reminiscence works to promote interesting conversations but RECORDING the life stories is crucial too--especially for someone with memory loss.  This information will be like gold in the pursuit to deliver quality service and care in the short term and in the long run. And it's not the standard social history that is going to be all that's necessary. The details of family relationships from the person's youth, childhood memories, young adulthood, historical events,  love, marriage, children, grandchildren, pets, life lessons, values, and more are all part of this rich story. For example, it would make more sense if staff members knew that Betty's beloved horse from her childhood was named "Slippers" when someone mentions slippers (on someone's feet) and it causes Betty to shed a few tears.

Curriculum for memory care is a growing trend. For example, LifeBio has developed a tool called MemoryBio that provides a universal photo album with over 200 pictures that will stimulate discussion on 35 major themes of life such as "Travel & Vacations" "Cooking, Baking, & Canning" "Jobs and Careers" etc. Along with every picture, MemoryBio includes a personal history question (yes or no, multiple choice, or a few open-ended questions) that will help generate a fun and interesting conversation. Even if a person with mid to late stage dementia cannot answer, the pictures and questions could help the leader to talk about something more interesting--from his or her own life. It's key that the programming not be childish, but stimulating and fun for both the staff member and the resident. The themes in MemoryBio are also used by communities as a "theme of the week" -- so weekly life enrichment doesn't revolve around holidays all the time (how many people really celebrate all the holidays anyway).

Innovations in memory care can mean emphasizing narrative care in your community. The focus should be on both reminiscing and RECORDING life stories. This isn't just a "nice to have" activity but an essential component of delivering quality long term service and care.
3. INVOLVE the family and volunteers more. In many cases I've seen, the family is happy to be engaged in the memory gathering process. They are glad to have a focus for their visits and some way to help. For example, family members can be asked to help create a LifeBio Storyboard, help fill in the Life Story Journal, or attend a LifeBio class with their parent or grandparent. Some family members even want to gain access to LifeBio.com to work online to help build the life story.
Joe has vascular dementia to the point that he cannot speak. His family accessed LifeBio.com's online autobiography template as a group and worked on building Joe's story from their own perspectives. "If dad could answer this question, he would say......." Joe's wife or his four children would do their best to answer the question for their husband and father. It was a beautiful experience for everyone. They were reminded of the many, many good times they had experienced together--despite the challenges of the present time.

Sharing life stories can be a joyful time and a way to involve youth groups, middle or high school students, or college students in writing down what older adults have to share. Be sure to encourage volunteerism in memory care more than ever. An 80-year-old Texan in a memory care unit commented, "There's nothing better you can do for me than bring these young people in to visit with me."

4. SEE the connection betweeen reminiscence and wellness. Reminiscence does touch all dimensions of wellness so working on life stories will help people feel more purposeful and useful, while meeting their physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and vocational needs. When many things are out of control, one thing that many people with dementia can do is express their life stories (especially from their earliest childhood). Most people enjoy reminiscing about their own experiences, and it leads to validation of a life well lived. The goal is to help people with dementia experience more love, more hope, and more peace--that can be accomplished through focusing on the person's life more than ever before.

Please contact LifeBio at 937-303-4574 or email info@lifebio.com to learn more about LifeBio's memory care programming for senior living communities, retirement communities, assisted living, skilled nursing, adult day programs, hospice, or other senior service agencies. MemoryBio provides over 200 pictures and questions to stimulate engagement and recording of life stories.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What's stopping retirement communities from telling life stories?

Here are 3 reasons why some retirement communities may hold back from beginning a reminiscence program.

1. Reminiscing is so “old fashioned” – shouldn’t we just focus on the future?

The power of story helps people to build authentic relationships. When they have just moved in to a community or even if they have lived there for a while, people benefit greatly if they can develop closer, more meaningful friendships. LifeBio’s Story Cards are a simple way for people to have conversations that don’t involve the weather, health, sports, and food. LifeBio opens a door to new conversations and people realize how fascinating and accomplished the people are around them. LifeBio 101 classes help residents get to know other residents, staff, family members, and even prospective residents. People realize what they have in common – they can enjoy their future together more if they actually KNOW each other at more than surface level. When people know each other, it helps them experience more genuine love, hope, and peace. It helps the staff deliver better service and care too.

2. Why reminisce—isn’t that just dredging up old losses and causing more grief and pain?

Everyone has “sweet and sour memories”. Everyone has had multiple losses in their lives. The problem comes when people have no way to express these emotions. If people are forced to retreat to their rooms when they feel sadness and anger, they will continue to harbor these feelings. We find that people in LifeBio group classes have a chance to recall many positive experiences, review many accomplishments (validating their lives), and they realize that they are not ALONE. Everyone has experienced plenty of joy but also periods of pain too. There is something comforting in knowing that you’re not the only one who is feeling these emotions.

3. Reminiscing has been and “old school” activity for many years. What’s different now?

Yes, shadowboxes have been in memory care areas and activity directors have used Reminisce Magazine for discussions for years. What’s different now is a focus on lifelong learning (LifeBio 101 classes), brain fitness (working the hippocampus of the brain where memory is stored), exploring new technology (www.lifebio.com), and achieving higher resident and family satisfaction(expectations are high—management is realizing they must really KNOW people to deliver the very best service and care). LifeBio helps people achieve the goal of creating a biography in their own words—enriching lives in the process. Every person is unique. Communities are focused on person-centered care now and individualizing what they do more is KEY. LifeBio helps them accomplish this BIG goal. This isn’t just a little activity anymore.

For more info, contact Beth Sanders at 937-303-4574 or email bsanders@lifebio.com

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real Stories of America

Wilson C. was the first participant in the Real Stories of America Tour Ten-Minute Biography Challenge. What makes Wilson unique as an individual? How does his life story compare to your life story, or the life stories of friends and family members? Have you been asking, "How do I tell my life story?" Are you up to taking the Ten-Minute Biography Challenge? Start today!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Veteran's Story

As you gather with family and friends this Memorial Day, take a moment to acknowledge and show appreciate to any veteran you know who has made the ultimate sacrifice of serving his or her country.

To show our appreciation to all veterans, LifeBio proudly introduces The Veteran's Story digital book, the perfect way to preserve memories of heroic deeds, valor, honor and servitude.

Just in time for Memorial Day, The Veteran's Story is a PDF file that can be immediately accessed after your order is placed. You can then print out the pages, write in your answers on paper, and watch your story unfold. Carefully-crafted questions guide you through your years of service. The book also contains space for additional stories, as well as photos, letters and memorabilia.

The Veteran's Story also makes a perfect gift for the special veteran in your life!

"Get Going...Get Fit...Start Today!"

May 26th is National Senior Health and Fitness Day. The goal of National Senior Health and Fitness Day is to bring awareness to and promote healthy lifestyles for aging adults. This year's theme is "Get Going...Get Fit...Start Today!" Here at LifeBio, we would like to encourage you to take this opportunity to do just that!

An area of health and fitness that is often ignored is cognitive health. LifeBio works to promote cognitive health through reminiscence, also known as the life review process. Studies have shown that the reminiscence and life review process can have the following benefits for aging adults:
  • Increased life satisfaction
  • Improved resident/staff and family relations
  • Reduced geriatric depression
  • Decreased disorientation and improved social interaction
  • Increased orientation and competence after relocation
  • Increased sense of purpose and meaning
LifeBio’s extensive line of reminiscence products and services help you capture your life story and the life stories of loved ones by following an autobiography template, as well as through the Memory Journal, Life Story Journal and many other legacy sharing tools.


Learn more about National Senior Health and Fitness Day, and find events in your community.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Unwritten Lyrics

As I was listening to the radio today, a song by Natasha Bedingfield began to play—Unwritten Lyrics. The song is dear to my heart, as it spoke of the book of life—cherishing the past and being open to endless possibilities to come.

Take a moment to read the lyrics of Unwritten Lyrics, as I hope it brings inspiration and motivation to you to write the lyrics to your life story:

Unwritten Lyrics

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined

I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten
Oh, yeah, yeah

Sense of purpose in life reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Individuals who report greater purpose in their lives appear less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, according to a recent study conducted by Rush University Medical Center. The study found that people tend to rediscover their life purpose by deriving meaning from life experiences.

Incorporating activitities that focus on reminiscence is an effortless way to increase one’s sense of a purposeful life, due to the fact that the reminisence, or life review, process walks participants through life experiences--both positive and negative--which helps them remember where they came from, the important people they have gotten to know throughout the years, personal accomplishments, stories of triumph and why they are here--purpose.

Cognitive learning and stimulation tools, such as the MemoryBio Photo Album and Journal, the Memory Journal, Life Story Journal and Story of My Treasures can help guide you or a loved one through the reminiscence and life review process, as past memories are evaluated, a new sense of purpose is restored in the individual’s life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

3 reasons you should write a legacy letter or ethical will

What is a Legacy Letter or Ethical Will?

Ethical wills are a way to share your love with family and close friends. Think of an ethical will as a heartfelt letter or legacy letter describing what truly matters most in your life. An ethical will passes on life lessons, values, joys, prayers, hopes, and dreams for present and future generations. It doesn't have to be anything fancy--just a letter from the heart that expresses your thoughts.

Unlike a Last Will and Testament or a Living Will, an ethical will is NOT a legal document. An ethical will describes your treasures of the heart, not your treasures.

Why should you write your ethical will?

1. There is no one else like YOU! You have incredible wisdom and experience to share—no matter what your age or background. Every day is a gift so TODAY is the day to begin recording the most important information for your family and other loved ones.

2. Your ethical will has the potential to affect multiple generations perhaps even hundreds of years from now. They will read your hopes and dreams for them. They will be reminded of what was really and truly important to you and what you wanted them to always remember. Your legacy letter will help them walk in your shoes and truly know you in a new and powerful way.

3. Writing an ethical will or legacy letter is a journey of self discovery. You may be reminded of all the love you have experienced in your life. You've accomplished many things through the years. You'll have the opportunity to recall both the joys and challenges of your life--and realize how remarkable a life it has been. You may even be inspired as you move forward with the next chapter of your life.

Remember that an ethical will is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children and grandchildren.

Once you complete your ethical will or legacy letter, it is important to put your ethical will in a safe place—someplace where your loved ones will be sure to find it someday (perhaps with your Last Will and Testament). You may also want to share your ethical will with your family and friends at the time you write it. An ethical will certainly can help in communicating how you really feel and it may be a great conversation starter.
https://secure.lifebio.com/Ethical_Will_Kit-details.aspx