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

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...

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 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 (, 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

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 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.