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The Power of Life Stories in Health Care

Every person has a story to tell. Storytelling is something we have experienced around the kitchen table or a warm campfire. Tales of great joy, tragedy, adventure, or love are told as we share our own human experiences with each other. Narrative and reminiscing are appropriate and useful in health care (narrative medicine, narrative care, humanities in medicine). It is also useful in daily life because: 1) Nearly anyone can participate in life review; 2) Life stories can help with a positive sense of identity; and 3) As people reach the end of their lives, it can result in integrity and reconciliation (Kenyon, et al. 2011, p. 291-292). It is especially helpful in the lives of older people as psychiatrist Dr. Robert Butler first documented in 1963; it comes naturally to reminisce with the familiarity and comfort of sharing about one’s past experiences, especially as people reach into their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond.

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