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ARTICLE Memories to Ease Life's Transitions

The aging process can be unkind. Even healthy older adults sometimes suffer from mild to moderate depression, while those with Alzheimer's disease, dementia and those in end-of-life care or hospice care can suffer from their physical losses and life transitions.1

Life review therapy (also known as reminiscence therapy) aims to help older adults cope with the changes they face by providing perspective and acceptance of one's life, including the resolution of past conflicts.2 During reminiscence therapy, patients reconstruct their life story and examine both positive and negative experiences, sometimes with a therapist as a coach.

The UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement business is working with a vendor called LifeBio, which provides an interactive web-enabled or hard-copy tool designed to facilitate life review. It allows patients and their caregivers to create a patient autobiography that can be as extensive as a book or as concise as a storyboard. Patients simply answer the thought-provoking, open-ended questions found in the tool in order to "prime the pump" of their memory.

Creating an autobiography creates a lasting legacy of memories to family members. In addition, reminiscence has been found to lower depression, lower physical pain, and increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction.2

LifeBio shows how innovation can serve the needs of compassion for those of us in our most frail moments.