There is an enormous potential for life story activities and meaningful conversations for those in later life.
Erik Erikson and his wife Joan Erikson has much of interest to say about the last phase of life seeing it as a potential time of reconciliation, reflection and possible wisdom. (Read more)
Challenges to this ideal as in all the other stages of life may come from isolation, loss and despair at parts of life that have remained unresolved or impossible to come to terms with. Greater physical incapacity in later life can throw people back to childlike dependency and the issues and emotions associated with this. Wisdom can be elusive at these times! Watch this video of a carer talking about respecting those she works with and their previous lives: http://dansalaman.uk/video/
It all starts with a conversation! See Stimulating Conversations booklet and Reminiscence Group Guidance which invites the involvement of memory and reflection around people’s life stories. See link for a range of materials for reminiscing and reflecting http://www.dementiasigns.co.uk/dementia-activites/reminiscence-books/ Look at this excellent site for free PDF of a starter book which encourages people to write about their life stories in a way that could be therapeutic for them and anyone who cares for them. Scroll down for more: https://johnscampaign.org.uk/resources.html#/books
The link below may encourage a desert island disc style interaction with a parent or relative before dementia gets too cumbersome. The early memories stay with someone with dementia for longer and more vividly than recent events. See this link for Dan Johnson’s experience with his father and how doing a desert island disc recording helped both his father reconnect to his younger self and the family to learn about parts of their father’s life they were not aware of.
Please share this site with anyone who has a connection to someone who might be lonely or appreciative of discussions created this way.
Reminiscence therapy illustrates how reminiscing can be a healthy activity and when it might not if it turns to obsessive and negative regret and rumination
So much depends on the life lived, the temperament of the person and the extent of the present day difficulties they are being challenged by.
Do share and pass these on to those who might act on the resources shared!
This free guide shows carers how to create a book and shares research which indicates how beneficial these books can be for the emotional wellbeing of the elderly.
This is a study project led by a nurse called Rachel Thompson into the potential of life story work with the elderly in a residential setting:
Look at the Social Care Institute of Excellence resource section with a lot more information about dementia as well with more free resources!
More resources that cost are produced to spur on memory and sense of self in the present by this brilliant not for profit charity. They sell cards, evocative smells [inbottles] and CD’s of sounds associated with the seaside, the forest and many more creative innovations that could be used in homes and at home;
This site below explains the work of a charity whose aim is to allow people who suffer from Alzheimers and dementia at no cost to re-experience their life story through the medium of DVD and sets their life to music showing pictures and videos of people’s life stories supplied by those closest to them.
These two websites explains how anyone can commission a professional writer to write about any part of their life they want to communicate but don’t feel they have the writing skills to do themselves. It involves cost and face to face interviews for material to be gathered.
For those sharp in mind and with money in their pockets who feel they don’t have the skill with the written word required to write their own or someone else’s life story please look no further!
Both websites clients may include those with terminal illnesses who are not in later life but in their last life stages or even those in the peak of life who just want someone who can tell their story more effectively than they can using the written word.
More resources for engaging the elderly around life story and orientating them to the present below: