Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Your Personal Trainer for Personal History

Today I was thinking about the ways that LifeBio helps our clients say what matters most to the people they love. I thought about how our questions and online template motivates people to actually create an autobiography...and that anyone can write a book with the help of LifeBio's structure and questions. So I thought to myself, "We're the personal trainer for personal history!" In fact, where LifeBio 101 classes are offered around the country, it's just like knowing you have an appointment with your coach. You have to keep coming back to class with more information in your LifeBio ready to share. We help you stay motivated. Here's to helping millions of people tell and share their life stories. Seemingly ordinary people have extraordinary things to share. --Beth Sanders

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recording Biographies for People with Alzheimer's

Recording the biographies of people with with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia is an incredibly important process. Some of these memories will be lost forever, and someday your recordings will be all that is left. Here are some helpful tips to make the biography of your loved one as special as possible.

1.  The process of recording life stories and memories is very important. You shouldn't write and think about memories and just be finished. The ideal situation is for the creation of a life story to be an ongoing process where the person is engaged in activities to stimulate memory and to continually build a strong relationship with one or more caregivers. Reminiscence involves stimulating the hippocampus of the brain where memories are stored and also working the prefrontal cortex (executive function). This is excellent cognitive fitness exercise. Keep in mind that the process of capturing the memories, assembling pictures, and discussion is as important as any finished product--it could become a  beautiful memory book for someone with Alzheimer's.  Remembering is also a fun thing to do for many older people.

2. The more we know, the more we love. People with memory loss are sometimes difficult to care for, but knowing someones life story can help a professional caregiver or family caregiver see this person with new eyes. This incredible, unique person has led a rich and interesting life with people, times, and places to share. It's important to see them as a child, a youth, a worker, a parent, and a grandparent. You need to have a holistic view of this person's life journey. Every day is a gift and people with Alzheimer's give love to their caregivers and need to receive special care and love too--many do teach us and share wisdom even with the disease. There is always more caring and empathy when the whole person is understood. It can also help a caregiver understand behaviors that may occur with Alzheimer's--things sometimes tied to an event from the past or childhood.

3. Incorporate memories into daily care. How can this person's home include many chances for reminiscence and more interaction today? Perhaps a memory journal can be an ongoing source for discussion as someone comes to visit, whether in a private home or in a nursing home or assisted living setting. It works out well when there are pictures found to complement the memories and they are DISPLAYED as part of a loved one's care plan (although the person shouldn't be quizzed to remember people's names in the pictures). It doesn't help anyone if these memories are hidden in a book in a drawer somewhere. Make it easy for nurses, geriatric care managers, social workers, family members or other visitors to see and use the information gathered in daily conversation.

4. Storytelling is a give and take experience. A person with memory loss may reach a point where it is very hard to communicate. If we've accomplished the goal of recording stories and memories, caregivers can still be the ones sharing when memories fade. The movie, The Notebook, was an excellent example of how a caregiver could continue to connect, relate, and share the story again after her memories were lost. We are operating with one hand tied behind our backs if we don't know at least some of this person's distant memories of childhood and teen years. BUT if we don't know the individual's past experiences, then it is time to connect eye-to-eye, face-to-face, hand-to-hand and tell one of our own stories. Talk about a time your car or truck broke down, talk about your childhood friends and games you played, talk about your last vacation. Watch and see if this conversation connects. The door of communication should stay open...even if we're not sure how much the person is able to understand.

There are many good reasons to reminisce and record memories for Alzheimer's patients. With the millions of people who are expected to be affected now and in the future, the time is now to begin capturing life stories.
Beth Sanders is the author of the Life Story Journal and Memory Journal and the CEO of LifeBio serves over 100 senior living communities, nursing homes, home care agencies, and hospitals by providing easy tools for capturing life stories to improve cognitive health.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Storytelling and Reminiscence Therapy

People with memory problems such as dementia or alzheimers benefit greatly from life review activities and processes. The recording of these memories is important for maintaining meaninful connection and communication. This needs to be recorded before its too late- too often, these memories are lost before anyone has written them down. We need to be able to walk in their shoes so that we can understand them and help them now and in the future. The person will make more sense if they are deeply known by everyone around them.

The Mayo Clinic neurology department discovered how valuable the information could be. They adopted reminiscence programming (using LifeBio's Life Story Journal) because they see the importance of helping someone with early-stage Alzheimer's to record memories, but they also found that the process helped them celebrate their life experiences, see their accomplishments, connect with their family caregiver more, and record information that only this person can share. Because reminiscence promotes feelings of happiness and purposefulness, it is also a great activity for Alzheimer's patients.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to Write an Autobiography

Beginning your autobiography could be a scary task. Sometimes, it's hard to know where to even start. Lifebio has the best autobiography template on the web.

First, it's important to start with the people that shaped your life. Mother, father, grandparents, siblings- anyone that made you who you are today. Second, go through your childhood memories. Your favorite books, games, pets and best friends are all part of your childhood. The third area is the "Real World". Talk about your adulthood, love, marriage, friends, travels, and your career. Finally, bring it all together with your values and beliefs, the life lessons you learned, and your hopes and dreams.

Lifebio makes it easy to begin your autobiography, or a biography of a loved one. Just walk through the process on our website, and watch as Lifebio generates your biography in an easy-to read, ready to print PDF file.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Interviewing Grandma and Grandpa

Starting the process of interviewing your grandparents may be a daunting process. How do I even begin? What should I say? Here are 5 tips to get you started on this fun adventure.

1. Don't talk yourself out of it. In this day and age, there are always a thousand things that need to be done, and a thousand more that needed to be done yesterday. Interviewing grandma and grandpa is an important activity that you need to incorporate into your busy schedules, so don't delay. Schedule a time and keep to that time.

2. Find the story behind their pictures. Grandpa and grandma probably have albums full of family pictures that mean a lot to them. Look through it with them, and find the story. They have so many things that they can tell you that literally no one else can. Take the time and talk about each picture, figuring out the story that goes along with it.

3. Structure is good. Think about the questions you want to ask before you get together or call them up on the phone. Lifebio's template would have you ask about people in their lives, childhood memories and historical events, the real world of adulthood, and end with values, beliefs, life lessons, and more.

4. Pick a quiet place for the interview. Make sure that you and grandpa and grandma are in place where there are no distractions like TV or other people chatting. This is especially important if you're planning on using a video camera. If someone walks in during the interview, it could ruin the entire thing. LifeBio's Video Recording Kit may be something you want to consider because it includes our Guide to Interviewing and Recording and all the equipment you'll need.

5. Smile a lot and speak up. Your grandparents need to know how much you're happy to be recording their life stories. Speaking loudly and clearly helps them, and it keeps you from having to repeat the question. This could be a life changing activity for all of you, and you need to show confidence. Helping capture grandma and grandpa's life stories for all eternity is certainly very special!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Praise From Lifebio's Members

"I am thrilled about LifeBio's service.

My Mom has been saying for quite some time that she wants to write down some stories of her life. She hasn't done it and I think that it is in large part due to the fact that it is a big task. How do you start? This is perfect. I am very excited to give her a Memory Journal for Christmas and then enter her answers at too. I have already told a couple of people about your service!"
--Lori, Livermore, California

Go to today to see what everyone's talking about!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why Reminisce?

Activity directors for retirement communities and nursing homes may hold back from planning reminisce activities or programs. This shouldn't happen. Reminiscing is beneficial to both the participant and the interviewer.

Here are three questions activity directors may ask themselves that may cause them to hold back, and why they shouldn't let these questions bother them.

1.  Isn't it better to just focus on the future?
Storytelling helps to build authentic relationships with others. It is an excellent way to truly get to know other residents, even if they've already lived there for awhile. Everyone benefits if they can develop closer, more meaningful relationships. Lifebio Story Cards are an easy way to help initiate conversations that don't involve everyday mundane things. Lifebio helps to open doors to interesting conversations, which then leads to lifelong friendships. When people actually know each other at an in depth level, and recognize the things they have in common, it is beneficial to everyone. It helps them develop genuine love, hope and peace, and helps the staff deliver better care as well. When we share the past, it helps to develop a better future.

2. Doesn't reminiscing just dredge up all the pain and grief of the past?
Everyone has pain and loss in their lives. We can't change that, and ignoring it doesn't help. Healing comes when we can share these painful experiences and others can help us get past them and accept them. Feelings of sadness and anger should not be suppressed. They need to be shared and expressed with others. People in Lifebio 101 classes recall happy and positive experiences, review many accomplishments, and realize that they are NOT alone. There is something comforting in knowing that other people have experienced the pain that you have, and that you don't have to suffer alone. Reminiscing creates many close relationships and helps other people recognize the good that occurred in their lives.

3. Isn't reminiscing an old school activity? What's different now?
Shadow boxes and Reminisce Magazine have been used by activity directors for years. However, Lifebio is bringing something new to reminisce therapy. Lifebio is bringing a focus on lifelong learning (Lifebio 101 classes), brain fitness (working the hippo campus of the brain where memory is stored), and exploring new technology ( Lifebio helps people create their own biography in their own words. Lifebio enriches lives in the process, and creates a high rate of resident and family satisfaction. Management recognizes that you must really KNOW people to deliver good care and service. Lifebio helps retirement communities accomplish the BIG goal of delivering individual centered care rather than group centered.

For more information, contact Beth Sanders at 937-303-4574 or e-mail her at
Click here for a Lifebio 101 class, or here for our story journals.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Mental health in nursing

Mental health is of growing interest for health insurers, hospitals, assisted living, and memory care units. is one excellent care management intervention and a social model for building a biography, especially for older adults.  LifeBio provides questions that stimulate group discussions for cognitive treatment in speech therapy, occupational therapy, or for those with Alzheimer's Disease or mild cognitive impairment.  Consider ways to increase reimbursement by using a tool like the Life Story Journal or in your treatment plan.

4 Tips for Using Life Stories in Senior Living

Creating life stories in senior living is an excellent idea because it helps meet the many needs of your community. 

1) Building Relationships -- When people are new at a retirement community, it is key for them to get to know each other.  Offering life story programming is one of the best ways for people to connect on a deeper level and realize what they have in common. 

2) Quality & Compliance -- F-Tag requirements for long-term care settings mean that personalizing service and care is of growing importance.  It is hard to deliver the best quality care when the people are not well known. Activities and life enrichment must be geared to the unique individuals living in long-term care and even assisted living. 

3) Great for Memory Care & Overall Health - Programming for people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's Disease must continue to improve.  When today is something that someone doesn't remember, the past is one of the very best ways to connect and communicate.  Having memory "cues" that work can reduce agitation and some communities even believe that more engaged residents will fall less and stay healthier longer. 

4) Intergenerational Opportunities & Family Connections (a great Activity!) -- One challenge in senior living is how can families and youth be more involved?  Life stories are just a natural reason for people to be communicating and learning from each other.  The wisdom and experience of older generations is passed to younger generations---technology is an excellent way for this to happen.  Although sometimes people just want to sit together and fill out a memory journal with a biography template of good autobiography questions.


Beth Sanders is the Founder & CEO of LifeBio Health.  LifeBio Health works in senior living and health care settings nationwide to help people capture life stories.  LifeBio is the industry-standard life story program used in over 100 communities today from coast to coast.  Learn more by emailing or call 937-303-4576. 

Memory Journal: The best memory book

If you are looking for a great memory book to chronicle life stories, look no further than the Memory Journal from LifeBio. 

Would you like to know how to write a biography? 
Would you like to capture family stories and record family values for your children and grandchildren? 
Would you like to take conversation to a whole new level when you visit an older loved one
Would you like to create a biography when someone is in hospice care?
Would you like to give the perfect GIFT to the parent or grandparent who has everything but he or she hasn't written an autobiography yet?

The Memory Journal is also available from

"The Memory Journal is the only thing that’s bridged the gap between me and my dad in the past 20 years. I never knew how alike we are. It’s the only peaceful conversation we’ve ever had. We’re doing it slowly about 30 minutes of questions every time we get together."

-- Jennifer, Marysville, Ohio.

6 great reasons to use the Memory Journal
#1  - The Memory Journal is designed to help people of different ages, genders, and backgrounds record their autobiographies or the biographies of a loved one. This book works for parents, grandparents, or singles. If there are a few questions that don't apply, these can easily be left blank.
#2 - The Memory Journal contains 250+ life story questions and ample space to fill-in-the-blanks with your answers. Special care was taken to keep the questions in a logical and easy-to-use format. Topics covered include:
      • Family History
      • Mother
      • Father
      • Grandparents
      • Brothers and Sisters
      • Other Relatives
      • Historical Events
      • Growing Up
      • Childhood and Teen
      • Favorites Family Fun, Vacations, Celebrations
      • Place of Worship and Faith
      • Elementary School Years
      • Junior High/High School
      • Military Service
      • Advanced Training and College
      • Jobs and Careers
      • Love
      • Marriage
      • Home
      • Children and Parenthood
      • Grandchildren and Becoming a Grandparent
      • Everyday Moments
      • Pets
      • Family Stories and Heirlooms
      • Beliefs
      • Opinions and Tough Questions
      • Life Lessons Through the Years
      • The Future
#3  - The Memory Journal's questions match the ordering of questions at That means that you or your family could decide to transfer answers from the book to the web to make multiple copies of the story for family and friends, now or in the future!

#4 - Perfect for the person who would rather write than type (or for people without a computer).
#5 - Take it anywhere--no computer with internet access required.
#6 - The LifeBio Memory Journal also works well as a first draft. Ideas from the LifeBio Memory Journal can be transferred to an online LifeBio (  and, finally, into the LifeBio Legacy Book.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Leaving Behind an Ethical Will

What is an Ethical Will?

Ethical wills are a way to share your love with family and friends. It is a heartfelt letter describing what matters most to you in your life. Unlike a Last Will and Testament, an ethical will is NOT a legal document. It describes the treasures of your heart, and passes on life lessons, values, beliefs, prayers, hopes and dreams for future generations.

Why Should I Write an Ethical Will?

There is no one else like you, and you need to share that with other people, especially your loved ones. No one else has your same experiences, knowledge, and dreams. Your ethical will has the potential to affect multiple generations of your family. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children and grandchildren.

Once you write your ethical will, put it in a safe place- perhaps with your Last Will and Testament. Make sure that your loved ones will find it someday. You may even want to share it with your family as soon as you complete it. It could be a great conversation starter with the younger generations.

Free Ethical Will Template

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Writing Your Autobiography

Have you been saying to yourself "How do I write my autobiography?" with no idea how to go about writing it? With the write template, it can actually be a very simple and fun process. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1) Talk about the people. The people who shaped your life are important to your story. The people who love you, gave you support, helped you make memories, had fun with you- these are the people worth writing about.

2) Record your childhood memories. Write about your best friend, your favorite games, the TV shows you watched, your school experiences, and your adventures. Your childhood helped shape you into who you are as an adult- these are priceless memories.

3) Document historical events that touched your life. There have been wars, political developments, accomplishments in technology, and so much more-all of these things have changed your life and need to be recorded. They are a part of your personal history, as well as part of the history books.

4) Note your adult life. Love, marriage, children, grandchildren, work, volunteerism, and so much more- they all need to be recorded. What do you love about your adult life? This is who you are you, and it's important to recognize how your life turned out.

5) Tie it all together. Be sure that your values, beliefs and life lessons are there for your family to read and cherish in the future. The very essence of you needs to be recorded- You and the people who came before you are worth being remembered. is a great resource if you need help with writing your autobiography.