It is my premise that the research-based Life Review is an important part of palliative care.
The recommendation is that nurses do this, but I think this is something trained hospice volunteers should do with their clients. For tech-savvy volunteers, we can put these answers into a PPT or an iMovie. I did this for a friend, Michele, who is paraplegic and living in LTC in Muskoka. I wrote about her in my book - of which she is very proud!
Celebration of life: Michele, Ma Belle!
Life Review Biography Project from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.
My friend, Michele, resides in long-term care. She is paraplegic, with spinal stenosis, but spent 41 years nursing. Doing a life review for her, using her scanned photos, helped to remind her of her accomplishments, her achievements, and the purpose her life had for many years.
Life Review Questions
- Tell me about your childhood.
- What was school like?
- What about your teenage years?
- Did you like school?
- What did you do for fun in your youth?
- What is your favourite food?
- Tell me about your family members.
- What about your best friends?
- Tell me about overcoming an obstacle in your life.
- What is your deepest regret or disappointment in your life?
- What do you think are the most important things about life?
- What are your life’s achievements?
- What do you find are the most satisfying things in life?
- Who have you admired and why?
- Describe the kind of person you have been.
- What were the happiest moments in your life?
- What messages would you like to leave your family?
- What mystifies you about life today?
Of course, for those with social work training, you can get into spiritual, philosophical questions, as I often do. It is the volunteer or clos family member (e.g. a daughter-in-law) that the care recipient often goes to for details about his/her funeral, their spiritual beliefs, fears, or about their pain.
The wise patient advocate gets into these issues as a trained volunteer, or as an advocate who can make the client more comfortable.
- Are you in pain?
- Do you have any questions you would like answered about your care, treatment plan, comfort measures, pain medications, et al.
- What are your beliefs about death?
- What do you fear about death?
This is adapted from a nursing article
•Life Review in Critical Care: Possibilities (PDF), CCNurse. 2010;30: 17-27 Mimi Jenko, Leah Gonzalez and Paul Alley. Critical Care Nurse, Vol 30, No. 1, FEBRUARY 2010 27
I have made videos with clients, or written up their Life Reviews for them. I make sure I write down any comments they make about how proud they are of their spouses or adult children who are providing care.
See also: another blog post:
Two important articles for professionals and staff.
Death With Dignity from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.
A presentation to Heart of Hastings Hospice.