Life stories are central to dementia-friendly care. They help staff understand people with dementia as individuals with unique needs and preferences. Recording people’s individual life stories provides information for developing enjoyable life experiences that tap into a person’s familiar roles and interests.

Creating a life story

To create a life story, collect information about a person’s:

  • previous occupation/s
  • domestic interests
  • habits
  • hobbies
  • recreational pastimes
  • personal accomplishment
  • school memories
  • previous homes and their locations
  • past holidays and their locations
  • relationships with family and friends
  • religious affiliations
  • experiences of community participation.

Collect this information when a person first arrives, then discuss it with the person and their family several weeks later. Review it on a regular basis.

To gain as rounded a view of a person as possible:

  • visit them at home before they move into a facility
  • ask a family member or friend to provide a video or photographs of the person’s home, neighbourhood and lifestyle
  • ask relevant professionals about their experience of the person and their previous way of life
  • be aware of people’s significant personal possessions
  • ask about their daily pattern of living, including family visits and places they went to in the community, for example, shopping centres and entertainment
  • share and discuss this information among staff.

A person's life story is a 'bio-sketch' that reminds staff about a person's life experiences.