“Let’s Talk About Me”: Capturing Life Stories in Facts and Photos

By: Gail Elliot, Gerontologist & Dementia Specialist 

Founder, DementiAbility Enterprises Inc. 


Question: What is one of the best ways to set a person with dementia up for success when asking about specific facts related to his/her life story?   

Answer:  Provide written facts, along with hard copies of photos – and put the details into a book for all to access and use.  

Think about it for a minute. What questions do many people ask older adults on a regular basis?  Do you have children? Do you have grandchildren?  Where did you live? Did you work? Where did you work? What did you do? When we ask people with dementia these questions, we are often, but not always, met with a blank stare, or they look at us with frustration and disappointment when they cannot remember the answer. For those with the blank stare or obvious frustration, the memories may be locked away at the moment.  Unlock the memory bank, and set each person up for success, using the facts and photos provided in a “life story book” – and then seek opinions related to the discussions that follow.   

A book of facts and photos – a book that captures the details about a person’s life, to remind them of the people, places, facts and events from their past – not only helps the person with dementia, it helps those who provide support and care.  A “Life Story” book – a memory book – can help to stimulate memories, while also providing rich opportunities to open up the lines of communication between the person with dementia and those who provide support and care. And, in fact, when using the DementiAbility WOW Model, these details may help care partners to better understand the needs of the individual. There is nothing more rewarding for loved ones than to see a person’s face light up when they share the details on the pages presented in front of them.  One photo, along with supporting facts, may generate cascades of other memories from the past. Families are often surprised with the clarity of the facts that are shared – after the initial facts have been seen and read.  

If you would like to learn how to put a memory book together – a book that captures the rich details of a person’s past – consider registering for the DementiAbility one-hour free workshop, delivered via Zoom, scheduled for March 2, 2021 at 10:00 am (Eastern Standard Time – Toronto time).  DementiAbility is offering a free downloadable version of Gail and Laura Elliot’s memory book, called “Let’s Talk About Me: My life in facts and photos”, for those who sign up for the workshop.  Once you register, you will be sent the link 48 hours before the workshop. Directions for downloading the memory book can be found on the registration page. This is a great time to put a memory book together – and a time when people living with dementia need it the most.  Join us on March 2nd to learn more. Register here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *