How to Start an Oral History Project in Assisted Living

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 27 February 2013

Why oral history projects are of value, both for seniors at home and in assisted living, and how to start one: read on for more.In this EldercareABC blog post, Sarah Jennings tells us why oral history projects are of value, both for seniors at home and in assisted living. Jennings, a caregiver who writes for Brookdale Senior Living and works on the Veterans History Project for the Library of Congress, opens with a personal story, the one that motivated her to advocate for oral history projects.  At her grandfather’s funeral, she learned that many of his friends and even certain family members did not know about his service during World War II, though it was a tremendously significant life experience.

Jennings describes oral history as the collection of historic, cultural, sociological, and anthropological stories about a family/individual, as told through audio files, videotapes and interview transcripts.

Her post offers tips on how to start, which can apply to a project in assisted living too. We’ll highlight a few here:

  1. Choose which events/period of history you want to hear about first.
  2. Determine what individuals you would like to interview and ask if they would be willing to share their stories.
  3. Research the individuals chosen and identify goals for the project.
  4. Come up with a list of topics and questions for the group/individual.
  5. Secure a private, well-lit, comfortable location for interviews.


Learn more about oral history projects here.


There are 2 Comments about this post

  1. Carrie says,

    This brings to mind the very beneficial reminiscence therapy practice that professionals and home family caregivers provide to their loved ones, especially if they suffer from Alzheimer’s. More on that here: http://assistedlivingtoday.com/2012/12/the-benefits-of-reminiscence-therapy-for-seniors/

    What a great way to preserve their memory while aiding their memory!


    on 28 February 2013 / 4:18 PM

  2. Great point, Carrie. Reminiscing is a wonderful therapy practice. Thanks for sharing the article about it, and thanks for commenting on this post!


    on 28 February 2013 / 5:04 PM


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