Grøndahl, V., Persenius, M., Bååth, C. and Helgesen, A. (2017). The use of life stories and its influence on persons with dementia, their relatives and staff – a systematic mixed studies review. BMC Nursing, 16 (1).
Dementia is an important predictor of nursing home admissions. Due to progressive dementia symptoms, over time it becomes difficult for persons with dementia to communicate their wishes and participate in decisions concerning their everyday lives. Their well-being, sense of dignity, integrity and personhood are at risk (Grondahl et al, 2017).
Creating people’s life stories is particularly important in dementia care as it enables us to see the person beyond the dementia. The process of making a life story enables the voice of persons with dementia to be heard. However, enabling persons with dementia to tell their own life story can be a challenge due to factors such as memory loss, dexterity and visual loss, and impaired ability to communicate. Joint authorship is referred to as a way of supporting the ability of persons with dementia to contribute to their own story. After a life story process, persons with dementia often report feeling more positive. Life story work helps aged care staff to see the person with dementia as more than a patient as it enhances their understanding of the person for whom they are caring for (past jobs, likes, dislikes and interests.) Family members can be included in the process and provide personal family photographs, and often appreciate that life story work can make their loved ones feel more visible, present and heard.