Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick and easy ways to capture life stories

It doesn't have to be a major production or take a huge time commitment to help someone create a biography or a simple display about their life story and experiences.  It doesn't have to be expensive either.

I like to suggest that family members create a "Storyboard" while working side-by-side with their older loved one that describes a least a few key phases of life...showing pictures of them at different ages through the years. It is really eye-opening for younger family members to actually realize that grandma was once a little girl! Just some basic biography questions asked can provide wonderful material to put on a board like this along with just 4-5 pictures.

Another idea that takes more time but results in a lot more information is completing a Life Story Journal or another type of question/answer memory book. This is excellent for priming the pump of people's memories and helping them write an autobiography without delay. It doesn't have to have 400 questions for it to be effective--the key is asking the RIGHT kinds of questions to bring out what family members would truly want to read, for all time, about this amazing person.

Using technology is a great way to involve the young people in the family in a biography project. For example, online templates such as provide the questions on the web so the younger members of a family could collaborate to gather the stories of parents or grandaprents. Use a smartphone, a tablet, or a PC to write life stories and to share the biography with everyone. Just access even 20 questions and answer one everyday and watch the autobiography unfold.  What a great way to involve the tech-savvy will really help forge a more meaningful relationship between young and old.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Working on a 94-year-old's biography tonight.

Such a beautiful tale of joys and challenges, ups and downs, and faith and hope through the years. I feel like every story becomes part of me in a wonderful way and I keep learning so much. My 42-year-old mind gains immensely from the experiences and lessons of people twice my age. Tap into your own loved one's stories...listen and learn.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stories matter.

For thousands of years, we've shared our traditions, beliefs, and values through storytelling. The stories were told around the bonfire, the campfire, and the kitchen table. With our fast paced society, how will be sure that stories are preserved? We teach each other through stories. Don't let them be lost or forgotten in your own family.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We are all storytellers

Truth is stranger than fiction. We gain amazing life experiences through the years. Our children and grandchildren learn through story. Don't hesitate to teach them through your true life stories.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unique birthday gifts for seniors

If you're really trying to find that priceless, perfect gift for the person who has everything, we now have a new offer at LifeBio that might fit the bill.

We've bundled together a membership (our online autobiography template with 250 questions), a Memory Journal (with the same LifeBio questions in a 6 x 9 book form), AND the LifeBio Book gift certificate. The LifeBio Book gift certificate with entitle the recipient to order one copy of their hardcover, leather-bound edition of their life story after they have answered questions online at So the entire process is paid for -- from start to finish.

Give the gift of memoirs today.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Storytelling is making a comeback

Parents and grandparents are sometimes surprised at how much their children and grandchildren want to know when they start sharing their true life stories.

"Tell me a story. Tell me about YOU." is music to a parent's or grandparent's ears. I suggest closing the Dr. Seuss book or take time on a long car ride to tell them one of your own tall tales or "everyday life" stories. They say truth is stranger than fiction. Tap into your own great life stories (you know you've got 'em) and start sharing them.

Make sure you think about ALL your senses as you recall a story to share with your family (it's easy when you can reference your autobiography for some great material). Take them to your backyard when you were a kid...describe your best friend (could be a real character!), your favorite game, and what your neighborhood was really like. Describe your first bicycle, the picnic that blew away, the lilac bush you hid in, and the time you fell out of the tree. Be sure to throw in your joys and challenges to keep it exciting.

Relate the story to their lives. You and your children or grandchildren actually have a LOT in common! Of course, you were once their age and had similar feelings and experiences. This will be an eye-opener and shocker to them!
For those with kids who love text messaging and technology in general, text them a personal memory once in a while, connect via cell phone and share something deeper than the day's weather or what's for dinner. Don't be too surprised when you begin sharing your life in a more meaningful way and they LIKE it. You can even involve them in building your LifeBio online. They can easily be on the web WITH you, asking questions and typing in your answers--even if they live far away.

Start your LifeBio now. Access online questions.

What's right for you?

1. Are you a web person?

Access over 250+ autobiography questions online at LifeBio. It's easy and fun. Just answer 1-2 questions everyday!


2. Are you a book person? Would you rather carry a Memory Journal along or keep it on the kitchen table? Just open the book, pick a thought-provoking question, and write down your answer. Skip around to make it fun!


3. Are you a phone interview person?

Do you want your own or a loved one's voice captured? LifeBio's Phone Interview service may be right for you. This full service option can be the perfect thing for busy people who seek someone to help create a digital audio recording.


4. Are you a group person?

Whether you'd rather write or type your memories, it's fun to reminisce with friends and family. Start a weekly LifeBio group in your local area or you can even lead a LifeBio 101 class! There are 35 topics to bring together your stories so you'll have plenty of things to talk about!

Baby Books and Grandparents

I pulled out the baby books to see some of the adorable things I chose to record when my kids were very small. (Stay with me...In a minute, I'll tell you the connection between baby books and recording life stories.)

June 14, 1998 – I changed a light bulb and 2-year-old Melissa came over, with a hand on her hip, looked up and said, ‘What in the world is going on?!”

May 5, 2001 – David, at 17 months, was in the crib and when he woke up he said, “Du, Du, Du, Goo” (Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose). How adorable. He’s cute even when he cries.

March 6, 2002 – David, Melissa, and mommy are playing spaceship. David says he’s the captain named “Dude”. Melissa is “Cindy” the robot and they are calling me “Riffer” the dog.
Baby books are very important because they help us remember our children’s actual words and thinking and innocence when they were so very small. I know it’s hard to keep up with it—especially if you have more than one child. I know you think you’ll remember the things they say, but without recording them on paper there is not a chance of recalling very much. Even when I tell myself, “You should remember this moment forever—it was so cute and so priceless.” I find that even one or two days later, I struggle to think of the details and recount their actual words or actions if it hasn’t been committed to ink on paper. So I want to encourage you to keep writing in that baby book….but I also want you to know that this is only the beginning.
What else should you be writing down as a parent or grandparent? Here are 4 things you should always be thinking about and recording when you have a chance:

1) Tell them about the people that matter. Someday, maybe not immediately, they will benefit from knowing as much as they can about your parents, grandparents, special aunts and uncles, and others who helped you become who you are. What are your memories of these special people? Are they alive and well and still able to tell their own life stories (not just genealogy information)? Younger generations can learn so much about our country’s history—from their own family’s perspective (not just their Social Studies book someday).
2) Tell them about you as a little person. Your children will have the opportunity to walk in your shoes and to understand what it was like when you were a child. Our kids can see us as more than just mom or dad when we share stories from our youth. In fact, many of us will have experienced our children saying, “Tell me a story from when you were a little girl (or little boy).” Seize the opportunity to tell them some of your backyard adventures or crazy family vacations.
3) Tell them about the “Real World” and some of the joys and challenges of growing up. Love, jobs and careers, raising children, and more are all part of the complexities of life. It is wonderful for kids to have a recording of how you felt the first time you held each child in your arms. Through it all, you can show that despite life being difficult at times, you’ve made it through and you’ve gained some wisdom along the way.

4) Tell them what matters most. What are truly the most important things in life? This is your opportunity to record some of your own personal values or some of your family’s beliefs that you want to be sure are remembered for all time….take care of the earth, commit to lasting relationships, follow your faith, honor your elders, and more. Share your hopes and dreams for their future too—and even write to your future grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I know you don’t need one more thing to do, but creating a lasting legacy isn’t something you should discount or leave to chance. Delaying isn’t a good idea either—each day of life is truly a gift and we don’t have to be 80 or 90 to do this. Imagine those writings impacting not just your own children but generations to come. And just like those baby book memories with “Dude”, Cindy the robot, and Riffer the dog flying around on a spaceship in the family room, the recordings of people, memories, wisdom, and values have a chance to be remembered too.
Have more questions? Need information? Want to start recording memories for grandchildren? Call 1-866-543-3246 or 937-303-4576 or Email us at

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Creating a lasting legacy

What do you consider important to pass along to your children and grandchildren? What will you want people to remember about you and the family members who came before you?

You have beliefs, values, life lessons, exciting experiences, and everyday life that you can share. Not only can you share about your own life; you can pass along whatever you remember about your parents and grandparents (people your children/grandchildren will never really know). 

But will you create a lasting legacy? How will you create a lasting legacy? Do you see it as valuable? Do you see it as priceless?

Every day someone says to me, "I wish I had captured the life stories of  __________ (insert mother, father, grandmother, grandfather) before it was too late." OR "I wish my mother had recorded her memories for me." Why keep the next generation wondering and wishing? Why should these regrets happen? Why not just take even one hour to begin writing down your life. Or grab a tape recorder or turn on a video camera.

Somehow, some way the story can and should be recorded--especially if you know that your children or grandchildren are begging for a lasting legacy. Especially if they really want to always cherish your stories and memories. It is truly a priceless gift and you are the only one who can give it. It's time to tell your story.

Need help?    1-866-LIFEBIO or 937-303-4576
LifeBio offers an ethical will template and biography tools for people of all ages.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Last WWI U.S. veteran dies -- Frank Buckles -- the end of an era

The last American doughboy has passed away, and this reminds me that there will also come a day when the last WWII veteran will pass away. With less than 2 million WWII veterans still alive today (of the 16 million who served), according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, now is the time to capture these veterans' life stories without delay. Some may and some may not want to share their military experiences and that's okay. It would still be important to get some of the basics of where and when they served if possible. But then the life story can go much further. It is fascinating to ask questions and record information about their parents, their hometown, the impact of the Depression and rationing on them and their family members, and even ask them about great inventions that have come along in their lifetimes. There is a lot of 20th Century history just waiting to be captured if we take this opportunity without procrastinating any further. Baby Boomers have a last chance to record the life stories of the Greatest Generation without delay. Carpe diem.

Read more about Frank Buckles' life story.....

The end of horse and buggy stories? Probably.

I am lamenting the loss of stories about life before cars, tractors, and electricity. In Charlotte's biography and Marie's biography (both in their mid-90s), they share about life in wagons and school buses back then. They remember when fields were still plowed with horses. They tell of oil lamps before electricity. Time marches on and my fear is that these stories of life before cars, tractors, and electricity are dying away. My biggest fear is that families of people in their 90s haven't captured these amazing stories, from their own loved one's perspective, before it is too late. Save stories without delay--especially for family members or loved ones in their 80s and 90s. This could be your last chance to hear about this time in history. I promise you that these memories will be priceless to you someday.   1-866-543-3246

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Reminiscence therapy and dementia: 3 reasons why it makes a difference

1. The past is one of the best ways to connect. Long-term memories are, in many cases, very much intact. When someone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease or related dementias, it is important to capture as many details of his or her life stories as possible, as quickly as possible. It may not seem like the details matter, but they do and they will. In fact, it will be critical to delivering the best possible service and care. Because retrogenesis is believed to occur, a person with dementia may be, essentially, traveling back in time and seeing himself or herself as 50 or 40 or 20 or 10 years old. If you can know more about his or her life at these different ages, it will make communication and understanding easier.
2. Stimulate the hippocampus area of the brain. Recalling, sharing, writing, and reading memories does stimulate the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex regions of the brain. A non-pharmacological treatment for Alzheimer's Disease would be spending time daily or weekly reminiscing and challenging the brain.
3. Preserve and celebrate a person's identity. Start early by asking the right questions that will be interesting and fun to answer but will also provide valuable personal background. Engage the family  to fill in the details and tell you more about the people who mattered in this person's life (including parents/grandparents), life experiences, and personal comforts (favorite foods, favorite perfume, favorite time of day, favorite places to visit, favorite books, favorite movies, favorite chair, etc.). Display pictures of this person at different stages of life from youth until today. This will give the person and the people around him or her something interesting to talk about and be something the person can identify with themselves.

Enjoy each other's company and each other's memories. Try something and don't give up on your attempts to be in conversation--eye-to-eye, face-to-face, hand-to-hand. Many of us have seen the movie, "The Notebook". If we do know the person's life story, we can always tell the story and he or she can listen. If you are working with someone with early-stage dementia, the journey of life may still be an open book -- ready to be shared. Don't wait. These life stories should not be lost or forgotten. They could be critical to caregivers in providing the very best service and care. The more we know, the more we love.


Reminiscence therapy tools
You may be looking for tools that could help in the writing of life stories for someone with dementia or memory loss. The Mayo Clinic is using the Life Story Journal with their early-stage Alzheimer's patients. Also, you may want to consider the MemoryBio Photo Album and Journal. Photos are a great way to bring back memories and MemoryBio contains 200 pictures with thought-provoking, simple questions. It's wonderful when you as the family caregiver or professional caregiver can have the honor to ask these questions and take the time to write down the amazing adventures of this person's life. You may find that it lowers depression, increases life satisfaction, and promotes happiness. You might also think about using Story Cards (interesting questions for all ages to reminisce) or a Storyboard (display a few key pictures and memories on the board). Some families have even created a book for a parent with Alzheimer's using's autobiography template, and then they provided the book to professional caregivers. "If dad could answer this question, he would say...."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Life stories: 3 tips for writing life stories without delay

Every life deserves a book. So how should we go about creating a life story and avoiding the dreaded blank sheet of paper?
1) Realize you DO have something to say when you write your life story and that it DOES matter. Your memories of parents and grandparents alone is a story worth sharing. Every day of life experience has taught you something. Your children and grandchildren will appreciate anything you write or type for them whether it is a one-page letter or a 100-page book. Frankly, I think obituaries are way too little information, way too late.
2) Don't start with a blank sheet of paper. There are numerous tools on the market that provide an online autobiography template. Also, life story journals or memory journals with prompting questions are also available at any Barnes & Noble or online. When questions are priming the pump of your memories, this gets a whole lot easier. Even if you want to create a more customized book someday, you may want to start with a template of autobiography questions to help you get your first draft done and to stay organized.
3) Don't wait until you are 90 to get started. At age 34, I started my own life story and it was quite an eye opener. As I looked at my life story as a whole after a few weeks of answering autobiography questions, I was surprised to come to some new conclusions. It helped me see how one thing led to another, that led to another, that led to another. The whole chain of events was fascinating. I thought about my life in a "bigger picture" view that included my grandparents, my parents, myself, and my children. I even wrote a letter, as part of my story, to my future grandchildren. Also, it helped me think about, "What's next?" What will the next chapter of my life look like? So I see it as an excellent planning tool if you're in transition and asking yourself the question, "What's next?" You may find that, when you reflect, you remember how much you loved something when you were a kid. Looking back, could actually hold the secret to your future!

Want more information, just visit and become a member. You can add pictures to your story as well. It creates an instant autobiography. LifeBio's journals make great gifts too!

Rehab therapy and reminiscence therapy

Catrina learns a lot about Mrs. G. through reminiscing and recording her life story. Communications skills improved, individuality recognized, empathy gained, and relationships built.

Hear the words of a physical therapy student, Catrina, who just completed a reminiscence project with her partner, Mrs. G.

Catrina’s Story

I am a physical therapist student entering my third and final year (starting in June). I started working with Mrs. G through my school's Geriatrics Club last winter. I have always enjoyed spending time and working with older people…This experience has helped me appreciate the individuality of all people and life in general. It has helped me to work on my communication skills, which will be very important for my future. It's so important to me as a developing health professional to see each patient as an individual with his/her own life story, and this process has reinforced that value. I have laughed and cried with Mrs. G. throughout this experience. It has helped me to view her on multiple dimensions, and now we have such a great relationship. I am thankful for this program because it brought Mrs. G. and I together.

Catrina used LifeBio's online system to record Mrs. G.'s memories. Organizations can purchase license agreements or individuals can learn more by visiting or call 1-866-543-3246.