Vita Story Club envisions a world where elderhood is the most vibrant and fulfilling period of one’s life.
Our mission is to promote healthy aging, combat ageism, and reduce social isolation of older adults. We run our life story workshops as a way for older adults to strengthen their social relationships and to draw purpose from sharing their life experience with others.
CONNECTIONS FOR IMPROVED
Social isolation of older adults has become a major public health issue, and studies have found that the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad et al, 2010). With senior isolation poised to become one of the most serious health issues faced by older Americans, there is now a growing body of research demonstrating the health benefits of sharing life stories as a therapeutic social activity for older adults. Group reminiscence therapy in particular, is a well-documented way for seniors to improve their quality of life and psychological well-being (Ching-Teng et al, 2018).
Our life storytelling workshops are thoughtfully designed to enable participants to develop real social connections with others in their community. As we reflect on our lives in turn, everyone gets a chance to speak and to hear stories from others of different backgrounds and life experiences.
And most importantly, participants have a good laugh together as they reflect on humorous, thought-provoking questions that they never thought to ask themselves. Our workshops help older adults to feel nurtured, listened to, and acknowledged for their contributions – all of which provide the positive emotions and social support needed for healthy aging.
PRESERVING LIFE STORIES FOR
In addition to simply verbally sharing a life story, the process of preserving life stories over time gives older adults a worthwhile legacy project that they can dedicate themselves to. Documenting and sharing their stories with family and friends not only increases the social bonds needed to counter depression and isolation, but can also give renewed life purpose and a sense of contribution. This greater sense of life purpose has also been shown to significantly bolster cognitive and psychological health.
Through preserving and sharing life stories, our workshop members give back to their communities, friends and families. Vita Story Club workshops help participants to audio record their stories and document them in a legacy project. Upon completion of the workshop, members have built their own collection of stories and can continue gifting their life experience and wisdom to loved ones. Ultimately, we want members who participate in Vita Story Clubs to know their stories are respected and valued – to encourage their family, friends, care providers, and community members to listen, engage, and draw understanding from their elders’ life experiences.