Thursday, April 22, 2010

Iowa State finds tie between reminiscence and happiness

Here is a groundbreaking study by Dr. Peter Martin at Iowa State…don’t miss this! Read the first two sections of the article to see what I mean….

“Researchers urge caregivers of the elderly to implement programs -- including reminiscence therapy and structured life review sessions -- to foster feelings of happiness among very old populations.”

"You can be not overly satisfied with your overall current capacity and physical well-being, but you can still be a very happy person because there's a lot you can contribute just by sharing some of the things that nobody knew because it was 80 or 90 years ago," said Dr. Martin, who is also in the second year of a three-year study of Iowa centenarians.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Family Reunion Fun

Summer is quickly approaching, and that means the season for family reuions will soon be in full swing!

For many of us, family reunions are the only time when we are allotted the opportunity to spend prolonged periods of time with our loved ones. Try incorporating the LifeBio Memory Box into your family reunion activities, and let the fun begin! The LifeBio Memory Gift Box, comes complete with the Memory Journal, The Story of My Treasures, Online Membership (autobiography template), Story Cards and a commemorative pen. The Memory Box will be the perfect conversation starter, and the best part is, the fun doesn't have to stop when the reunion comes to an end. The LifeBio Online Membership (included) enables family members to share memories and upload photos in a secure location online for collaborative family memory projects and the creation of more family keepsakes.

Managing intergenerational relationships can be tricky at times, but through LifeBio’s unique system of capturing life stories, families have been brought together, and memories have been preserved before it is too late. From family reunions, to an exciting camping trip, to a life lesson learned as a child, to one’s favorite hobby in their 20s, LifeBio captures it all, and enables family and friends to truly get to know one another on a deeper level. Capture your family's memories today with the LifeBio Memory Gift Box!

What is a Personal Historian?

Writing an autobiography or biography is seemingly a daunting task. Sometimes knowing where to start can be the most difficult part. Then deciding what should be included, what should not be included and so on can make the process of creating an autobiography or biography challenging. To help simplify the process, some people hire personal historians to help record memories. Personal historians record and preserve memoirs and life stories, according to the Association of Personal Historians. The problem is, personal historians don’t come cheap. For simple life story recordings, fees generally start at hundreds of dollars, then can increase to several thousands of dollars if the personal historian needs to interview multiple family members or if the interviews are recorded.
Why pay these outrageous fees when you can be your own personal historian?

LifeBio gives you the power to be your family’s own personal historian. Create a do-it-yourself autobiography. After all, who knows your family better than you or another member of the family unit? Rather than paying thousands of dollars for someone to record the history you already hold near and dear to your heart, simply use the Memory Journal, Story of My Treasures, online autobiography template, LifeBio Video Recording Kit or other LifeBio biography tools to record and preserve memories that can be passed down for generations to come. LifeBio enables you to record memories, and easily collaborate with family members from anywhere in the world to compile memories and create lasting family keepsakes. Visit today for more information.

Preserving Oral History

The oral tradition of telling family stories was crushed in the 20th Century by the rise of all other forms of entertainment. Storytelling was much more common when we didn't have the movies, reality TV and the radio. So instead of seeking a conversation with our family members, we've got plenty of things to distract us. We read our children a storybook instead of telling them one of our own. Football games or other TV shows could be monopolizing your family gatherings--gatherings, by the way, that are more and more rushed due to families living farther and farther apart.
When family stories are lost, what is really lost are stories that could be communicating life lessons to our children and teaching the next generations right from wrong. Without these, look at what our kids are missing. Family stories can teach the importance of education, the need for courage in life, the trials that must be overcome sometimes, and the need for hard work to accomplish goals. Real stories, from your life, could have a huge impact on the lives of their children and grandchildren; and many future generations.

To capture memories and record and preserve your family's oral history, visit today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

10 Fun and Cheap Activities to do with Your Grandkids

The economy has been in decline for quite some time now, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop spending quality time with your grandchildren. There are plenty of cost-effective, fun activities that you and your grandchildren will enjoy! The following activities from Leah Ingram’s Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less, can help you reconnect with your grandchildren, and save money: 
  • Create a shoebox treasure chest
  • Make a towel-roll cord organizer
  • Create hand-made greeting cards
  • Organize a toy-swap party with other grandparents and parents
  • Have a cooking party
  • Put on an old-fashioned sock puppet show
  • Take a trip to the library
  • Stay in for a movie night
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Go out for a picnic (indoor picnics are fun on rainy days, too!)
While you’re spending time with your grandchildren, use the opportunity to really get to know them—and let them get to know you by sharing your life story. Share memories with them about when you were a child. What games did you like to play? What lessons did you learn from your grandparents? What was your favorite subject in school? To take your experience a step further, record your memories in a keepsake Memory Journal for your loved ones to enjoy for years to come. What a precious gift! Visit today for more great ways to connect with your loved ones of all ages!

All in the Family - Changing attitudes, extended life spans and changing immigration have strengthened familial bonds in the U.S.

Interesting article on how the family is coming back together in the 21st century -- for support, for caregiving, and more.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Brain fitness and wellness--Use it or LOSE it

Neurons must be challenged to survive and thrive. See a video of Dr. Gobble of Masterpiece Living sharing powerful information on brain fitness produced on ICAA's new TV channel. Is brain fitness really impacting people's lives in a profound way? The answer is YES. The social connection matters. Using the computer for brain fitness is great, but interactions with people lead to successful aging too. LifeBio's SOCIAL aspects of reminiscence programming are key to working the brain. Many LifeBio groups exist in senior living communities across the US and Canada. New programs to encourage cognitive fitness through reminiscence are something that STRETCH the brain. Dr. Gobble clearly sees that the social environment matters. "We need to create a culture of successful aging," said Dr. Gobble.

See more great videos on wellness and aging at The International Council on Active Aging promotes health aging.
Learn more about Masterpiece Living.
Note: Masterpiece Living recommends LifeBio's Certified Community Program as helping to meet the social and spiritual needs of older adults.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

4 tips for buying a memory book

If you are considering a memory book for yourself or for a loved one in order to capture life stories, it is important to consider what separates the best memory books from the "so-so" memory books or journals. Here are 4 tips to help you with your decision:

1) The structure of the memory book is important. It should prompt you with questions that are relevant to your life experience. The book should cover the people who shaped your life, the childhood memories, historical events, adulthood, and values all in book that is easy to follow. It seems some books have questions that are a bit more "out there" and some are just too general to cover your life experiences in enough depth.

2) This is a keepsake journal--it is something to be treasured for years to come. Does the book reflect quality? Are you going to love giving this as a gift to a parent or grandparent?

3) Is the memory book or memory journal appropriate for your loved one? Not everyone is a parent or grandparent, but they still may want to write in a memory book. Ensure the book you choose has questions that will appeal to your favorite aunt or uncle who had no children perhaps. His or her stories are still incredibly valuable to you and worth remembering and recording.

4) Is there a next step with the journal? Family members will be fighting over the memory book someday if there isn't a way to create more copies for loved ones. Is there a way to transfer the answers from the memory book to the web to create a finished autobiography for loved ones to have their own copy?

Enjoy the process of writing in the memory book or journal you decide upon. OR enjoy giving this priceless gift to the person or people you love. There are many autobiography templates out there in memory books, but some are definitely better than others. So be a savvy shopper!

Beth Sanders, founder of and author of the Memory Journal.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

3 tips for great activity programs for seniors, activity director ideas, senior activities for activity directors

As times change and people's interests change, it is important to be flexible and creative with activities in senior living communities or in senior centers. Here are a few ways to get "outside the box" with your approach.

1) Ensure seniors have a chance to give back to the community. They have been caring for others their whole lives so this is a time when they still may want to be volunteering and doing for others as well. Give older adults the opportunity to connect with youth in the community. Seniors have their rich and interesting life stories to give, and the younger person gains more from this living history than any history book. We've found that young people's lives are changed from hearing these stories (they realize how lucky they are) and they appreciate the older generation so much more.  LifeBio's Connect program could help bring youth and adults together with reminiscence tools and training.

2) Bring everyday life into the daily experience and highlight what certain people love. So maybe everyone doesn't enjoy stamp collecting, but a resident named Bill sure does. Cookie cutter activities just don't work for everyone. There's no reason why you can't focus on Bill's love of stamp collecting and think about ways to make his day or week--while at the same time involving other residents in learning about his joy during that time. Perhaps you bring in an unusual speaker--someone who knows the history of stamps to present some history on this topic OR tour the local post office. One-on-one visits could involve letter writing--and choosing a beautiful stamp for the letter. NOTE: The best way to find out about Bill's love of stamp collecting may be by listening to his life story first. The Life Story Journal or Memory Journal could help.

3) Bridge the gap between family and residents. Frankly, they don't know what to do when they come to visit. They don't know what to say. It's your job to help them have a project...or something to talk about that isn't the "same old, same old" stuff. Instead of the big 4---weather, health, sports, and food ("How was breakfast?" or "How's your knee feel today?" is really no fun to talk about anyway. YAWN) So it will work well for you to provide conversation starters or other reminiscence ideas to involve the children and grandchildren in the life of their loved one. When it's FUN to visit, they will want to visit more often. And that's good for you and it's very good for them! The resident and his or her family can make a Storyboard display or use Story Cards with thought-provoking "outside the box" autobiography questions as visiting ideas.

Enjoy your time with each person--celebrate each person's amazing uniqueness. He or she has gifts to share--especially their life stories. Even with some memory loss, many older people remember their childhood years like it was yesterday--so it's a good thing to talk about. Share your life with them and they will share their lives with you.  Your job is so important--for you are the community builder and the love giver.

If you would like more information on LifeBio's Certified Community program, please call 937-303-4574 or email

Friday, April 02, 2010

Tips for starting a Friendly Visiting Program using reminiscence tools

LifeBio is working with senior services agencies and area agencies on aging to provide innovative ways for friendly visitors to build a relationships through reminiscence.  Here are 3 tips for getting this program started in your community.

1) Adopt a universal biography tool that will appeal to people with diverse backgrounds
2) Ensure the friendly visitors receive training on interviewing prior to them starting the program in people's homes.
3) Encourage the family and other loved one's to be involved in the process. Knowing more about the person will only improve service and care. To know more is to love more.

As people begin with the friendly visiting process, they may think they are already familiar with their clients. What they will learn is the importance of knowing the people, events, and experiences that have profoundly impacted the older person. The older person will most certainly share their values and words of wisdom along the way. The biography process may take a few days or a few weeks depending on the client's preference, but it will certainly be an entertaining and enriching experience for both parties. There are so many health and wellness benefits of reminiscence as well, and reminiscence is an excellent tool for brain fitness too.

Please contact LifeBio to learn more about the Life Story Journal or Memory Journal--both ideal tools for using in Friendly Visiting Programs. Ask about our affordable training options via phone and web for your Friendly Visitors. 937-303-4574 or

Skilled Nursing, Memory Care, & Reminiscence

Studies have shown that communities see remarkable results when reminiscence and life review are encouraged.

Increases Life Satisfaction

With female nursing home residents, a study randomly assigned participants to a reminiscence group, current events discussion, or no treatment group. The results showed significant increases in life satisfaction in the reminiscence group.

Improves Resident/Staff Relations

Nursing home residents were interviewed with and without staff present and in either a reminiscence/life review format or a format more focused on the present time. The attitudes of residents toward staff improved with reminiscence and with the staff’s presence at interview.

Reduces Geriatric Depression

Newly relocated nursing home residents underwent a study to examine if life review could prevent clinical depression. Significant positive results were shown in reducing depression at the short-term testing stage with an additional decrease in depression and hopelessness at one year.

Decreases Disorientation, Improves Social Interaction

A study demonstrated it is possible for older people with dementia to reminisce and that this is meaningful for them in particular, because of the losses associated with dementia. Another related case study used life review with groups of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They were assigned to groups with some participating in life reviews and others did not. Results showed significance for life review groups in decreased disorientation and improvement in social interaction.
Increases Orientation, Competence After Relocation

A case study examined the use of a life review program with newly-relocated nursing home residents and it was found to decrease depression, while increasing orientation, perceived competence, and social interaction.

Increases Sense of Purpose and Meaning

After group therapy with older adults in long-term care setting over an 8-week period, this study found that the two treatment groups were significantly different from control group showing increased sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.

For more information on bringing LifeBio to your retirement community CCRC or nursing home or organization serving older adults, please contact LifeBio at 1-937-303-4574 or email


• Webster, Jeffrey & Haight, Barbara. Critical Advances in Reminiscence Work. Springer Publishing. (2002)