Blog Post

Families Help with Memory Care

1/9/2018 4:02:53 PM

LifeBio's Phone Interviews Gather Key Background


About one year ago, LifeBio began something NEW to assist our senior living clients with a key issue. With a special Permission Form signed, we began speaking directly with the FAMILY MEMBERS of residents with Alzheimer's Disease or other memory challenges.


Why did we start to do this? We learned that the move in/admissions process at most communities is challenging and stressful on everyone--new memory care residents, their family members, and staff members as well. Assessments, required paperwork, and other details are highly important during the transition.


As a result, it seemed to make sense to have LifeBio's Personal Biographers (trained interviewers) help communities learn more about each new resident very close to the date of move in. Beyond our web/app life story engine, specialized journals, group classes (that have been very useful in independent living and assisted living), it was time for LifeBio to add on a special approach for memory care


How does the process work?


LifeBio emails and then makes a phone call to find a good time to connect with the key family member. On behalf of our community partners, a digitally-recorded Phone Interview happens with our Personal Biographer asking 10+ key questions. For about 30-45 minutes, we learn as much as possible about the person with dementia. 


The family members laugh, reminisce, and truly enjoy sharing about their loved one experiencing memory challenges. Sometimes family members must learn new things about their loved asking others LifeBio questions within the family while they have a chance. In some cases, the person with dementia CAN share the details that we feel are essential. Here are some brief examples from some of the many things we have learned (pieces of much larger stories): 


  • Maria lost family members during World War II, and she was very thankful to emigrate to America.
  • Bill and Grace eloped because Grace's mom wouldn't allow the couple to travel together unless they were married.
  • Lois was an incredible homemaker and her children admired how she handled every detail of managing the household and the cooking. 
  • Jenny likes to know your favorite candy so she has candy YOU like in her room. 
  • If John tells you a story about catching 20 fish, you'll need to divide that number by 10 to get the correct amount! He loves to exaggerate!
  • A woman with a Greek background needs more Greek food routinely at her community, and she celebrates her "Name Day" which is more important than her birthday each year. 


The family members are typically very proud of their loved ones many accomplishments through the years. They are also very HAPPY to participate because they see the importance of the community's staff deeply knowing more about their loved ones with dementia. Of course, the expectation is the staff will review and USE the LifeBio information recorded in the delivery of the best possible service and care---something that will set the community apart in the market too.  


What happens after these interviews?


First, we are commonly WOWed after these powerful interviews. Next, our Story Team transcribes the interview, creates the person's account, and uses the web to send back a Life Story Book and beautiful 1-page Life Story Summary to the community. The Summary is ready to be posted in the shadowbox or framed and displayed for staff, family, and volunteers to see. In some case, it is used behind the scenes as a training tool for staff.


Communities love presenting the Life Story Books to family members. We want each person at the community to have a chance to have a lasting legacy to share with children and grandchildren. Families appreciate that YOUR COMMUNITY helped them have a lasting legacy. The book gives the community something tangible to share. Also, the Life Story Book is a tool for engagement or re-direction with the person who has dementia. Just spending a few minutes side-by-side taking a look or reading some of the person's own stories outloud works. 


Another important thing that happens is that the LifeBio 1-page Life Story Summary is an excellent training tool for new or even existing staff. It is a "quick read." At some communities, each week, a Life Story Summary is read by a certified nursing assistant to the other nursing and personal care team members. They brainstorm together about what this person would like to do and like to talk about. In many communities, the 1-page Life Story Summaries are framed and displayed so that staff, family, and even volunteers have a great idea of how to best visit with relevant things to talk about together. We love that another community uses the stories during family nights or birthday parties to highlight one or two amazing people. 


It is exciting that the Life Story Summaries also help the Life Enrichment staff plan very personalized activities based on exactly what a particular person might like to do (everyone is so different!) based on interests from his or her past. Person-centered care thrives when we have a deep knowledge of residents with memory challenges. 


There are no cookie cutter people! Everyone has an amazing story...and it makes a difference when that special story is known. It is our opinion that the best memory care communities coast to coast will have a deep understanding of the whole person---and a visible reminder of that story to keep a holistic view of the person front and center. 


Love to connect! Please call LifeBio at 937-303-4576 or email -- click on HEALTH area to learn more!


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