Autumn is a natural time to think about aging. We see the leaves change color as the earth readies itself for transformation. It seems right that September is appropriate for Healthy Aging Month. The phrase “healthy aging” brings many things to mind: maintaining muscle mass, flexibility, a balanced diet and disease prevention. But there are other, less tangible parts of healthy aging that come to mind as well — social engagement, mental wellness, a sense of purpose and legacy.

Here at LifeBio we know that healthy aging includes connection: between older individuals and their families, between caregivers and receivers of that care, and even between an individual and one's own story. Storytelling creates a link that bridges the expanse between people. 

It makes me (Beth) think of two brothers, Henry and John, in the State of Tennessee. The LifeBio Project was happening at the nursing home where Henry lived. His brother, John, would come to visit regularly, but today was a special day. Henry was receiving the copy of his finished Life Story Book and a Snapshot summary now was posted outside the door of his room. As Henry smiled and pointed at photos and memories in his book, a song his grandfather taught him while working in the fields came to mind. He began to sing and his booming voice floated down the hall with ease. His little brother, John, glowed with pride. The LifeBio staff and nursing home staff knew we were witnessing something extra wonderful. The act of telling his story connected Henry to his brother, to his caregivers, and to a group of relative strangers who came to listen. Henry was reminded of his own uniqueness, his legacy, and how much he is really and truly loved. 

Narrative psychologists Kate McLean and Monisha Pasupathi put it this way: “Via the process of narrating their experiences, people eventually build a sense of how their past informs the person they are today and how their past and their present point toward an emerging future.” In short, sharing life stories results in a sense of coherence and well being that actually helps someone face the future with hope.

As the calendar flips from September to October, and we gear up for a busy month, launching our new LifeBio Memory platform, developing a system that uses natural conversation for early detection and assessment of Alzheimer’s Disease progression with our research partner, Brown University, and attending the LeadingAge annual meeting in Atlanta, we too are facing our future as a company filled with hope. It is a hope built on the confidence that storytelling changes lives. And every single person has a story to tell.

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