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Recording Life Stories: 5 Ways to Help Seniors Share Special Memories

Sponsored by Life Story Club

Connecting with others through sharing life stories is a consistently rewarding and enriching experience.

People who actively intentionally reflect on their life experiences are often surprised and appreciative of how much they’ve been through.

Thinking about and discussing the past also helps keep their minds active and engaged.

In addition, sharing stories often leads to improved communication, which has been shown to reduce care-related stress. This helps prevent caregiver burnout and its negative effects on the relationship.

Overall, the main benefit of storytelling is the bond it creates between people.

Having someone to share life stories with improves a person’s sense of self worth and provides a worthwhile project to work on.

Plus, while you share these true bonding moments with your older adult, they might surprise you with stories you’ve never heard before or share valuable life advice.

But you might wonder how to get started with recording life stories for your older adult. At Life Story Club, we help individuals aged 50+ share and preserve their special life stories.

Here, we share 5 simple tips and free resources that have helped families start their own life story projects.

1. Ask questions to keep the conversation flowing

To guide a storytelling session, you can find plenty of life story interview questions online and in life story journals.

For additional ideas, we share our Storytime Cards as a free resource.

Our life story questions come with fun, nostalgic images designed by professional personal historians to inspire memories.

Storytime cards

2. Record their story for a legacy project

Preserving life stories through audio recordings is a wonderful legacy project.

Audio recording your loved one’s voice as they share stories adds meaning by showcasing their voice and personality.

Plus, having an audio recording means that there’s no need to take notes by hand. 

Most smartphones come with basic voice recording apps already installed.

3. Go at their pace and ask follow-up questions

The keys to being a great interviewer are to give the storyteller time to share at their own pace and to prompt them for additional details.

While you do want to keep the conversation flowing, it’s okay if your older adult takes long pauses. That gives them time to think and tell the story in their own way.

But don’t be shy about asking questions when the timing feels right. Some of the most wonderful stories are told when the interviewer asks thoughtful follow-up questions to help them add context and interesting details.

Think of it as more of a conversation than an interview – no need to make things overly formal.

Also keep in mind that even if your older adult’s story doesn’t seem 100% accurate, they’re telling their life story from their unique perspective and memory. It’s best to just let them share without trying to edit their story or correct them.

4. Look through old photo albums

Another meaningful way to prompt life stories is to flip through old photo albums.

Looking at photos from the past often brings back a flood of memories, and can be a great way to inspire storytelling organically.

Plus, looking through old albums helps you identify cherished photos that you want to preserve in digital format in case they get lost or damaged. You could scan these photos or take a picture of them with a smartphone or digital camera.

5. Get inspired by joining a Life Story Club

Life Story Club hosts social clubs for older adults who receive in-home care every week over the phone or Zoom.

This is a safe space for small groups of older adults and their families or caregivers to exchange life stories and build a community of peers.

Every week, our Club facilitator brings two questions to the group such as, “What was your neighborhood like growing up?” and “Tell us about a favorite family tradition.”

Participants are free to share stories of their own, or just tune-in like a live podcast to listen to the fascinating life stories of others.

Register to experience the richness of a heartfelt community of storytellers.

Life Story Club is a 501c3 nonprofit organization based in New York City. We are dedicated to promoting healthy aging, combating ageism, and reducing social isolation among older adults.

This article is sponsored by Life Story Club. For more information about our advertising policies, see How We Make Money.


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