We all have our own life experiences which shape us as individuals – but people with dementia often have problems with communication and memory that make it difficult to express who they are and what matters to them.
Creating a ‘Life Story’ can be a useful way to record important information about the person and help others understand and relate to them better.
A Life Story acts as a ‘fact file’ about the person with dementia, such as their background, interests, and who and what is important to them. It can be shared with other people, including family and friends, carers and healthcare professionals.
A Life Story can:
help a person with dementia to reflect on important information about themself and strengthen their sense of identity
bring them comfort by reminding them of special memories and other things that are important to them
help family and friends to develop a closer bond with the person through the sharing of stories
give health and social care professionals a clearer understanding of the person’s life, their preferences, and how to meet their needs. This is particularly helpful if the person has a new carer, is moving into a care home, or is in hospital
When you’re developing a Life Story with a person with dementia, you can choose the format – or combination of formats – that works best for them. These include:
books: these are portable and easy for carers and visitors to refer to. Keep it simple by using two contrasting colours, photos, and a clear font – too many colours or patterns can be confusing for people with dementia
collages: these focus on photos and other images that encourage the person to reminisce, and can be especially useful in the later stages of dementia, when they may be unable to read
video recordings: a good way to record visual information such as home videos and messages from the person with dementia to their family, friends and carers, and vice versa
memory boxes: these contain meaningful items and are particularly useful for people with sensory impairments (such as sight loss or perceptual problems) and those in the later stages of dementia who rely more on touch or smell to communicate
apps: there are many programmes that can be downloaded to a phone or tablet and allow you to save and share photos; mark special places on a map; and play video and audio files
personal profiles: these are short versions of a Life Story – often just one page long – and are useful in hospital settings to help staff understand the person’s needs
This template can help you get started with creating a Life Story. It is designed to be flexible, so you can make it shorter or longer, and add information, photos and pictures that are relevant to the person with dementia.
To speak to a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse about creating a Life Story or any other aspect of dementia, please call our free Helpline at 0800 888 6678 (Monday-Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am-9pm, every day except 25th December) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.