A person with dementia loses her ability to tell her own story, making it harder for her to convey her humanity, even to family caregivers. Life stories are missing from dementia care, but they can be crucial to helping families preserve their sense of closeness to their loved ones.
I am a professional writer, and I propose building a network of journalists that captures short, digestible life stories for people with dementia by interviewing their family caregivers about their loved ones. These would be short stories, something that could be read in 3 to 5 minutes, providing a capsule of who a person is.
Depression and disillusionment resulting from the stress of caring for someone with dementia is one of the biggest risk factors for family caregivers. Clinical research in the U.K. shows that life stories can be beneficial for families by helping restore their feelings of closeness to their loved ones.
But it can be emotionally challenging for families to write life stories for their loved ones. They're too close to the story; sometimes don't know which questions to ask; and have trouble capturing the essence of their loved one concisely.
That is where the professional journalists would solve the problem. They can be sensitive, third-party observers who craft beautiful stories.
The families would have full control over what gets published, and they would provide favorite photos and music and other information about their loved one's favorite things.
This idea is scalable because there are thousands of freelance professional journalists who are skilled enough to write these short, digestible stories, and we could develop a template that guides journalists on the best way to craft these stories. The template would still allow for creativity, beauty and personalization of each story, but provide a structure of the type of information that would go in each story.