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Best Practices in Caregiving

How Knowing the Life Story can benefit the Patient and the Caregiver

Today I was asked why is it so important to know the Life Story of the person you are caring for with Alzheimer’s. There are several reasons it is important to know someone’s Life Story: 1) the person you are caring for lives increasingly in the past, 2) it’s a great way to connect with someone who can’t talk about the present, 3) you can plan care and activities based on what you really know about the person you are caring for, so care is truly person-centered.

Families and caregivers are often frustrated and they find it a struggle to communicate with their loved one or patient. Knowing the Life story can ease frustration and facilitate communication.

Completing a Life Story on a person with Alzheimer’s should include the following;

  • Family History-Information on spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents

  • Occupations

  • Traditions

  • Education

  • Politics

  • Religion/Spiritual

  • Where did person live from childhood through adulthood

  • Significant historical events in their life

  • Advancements in technology

  • Hobbies

  • Pets

It is important to connect with the people we care for with Alzheimer’s. Bring up events from the past with a loved one or patient, show pictures from a photo album, play music that is significant to them or look at a memory book. Knowing their likes and dislikes will make it easier to enter the world of the person you are caring for. Our colleague, Dr. Verna Carson wrote an article on Knowing the Person’s Life Story in Caring Magazine, a publication of the National Home Care Association a few years ago that looked at cases that demonstrated the importance of this very issue. It can be found at

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