In 1993, it hit Beth Sanders that her grandmother wouldn’t be around forever. Plus, the 85-year-old’s memory wasn’t what it used to be, so Sanders, who was 24 at the time, thought it would be nice to get some of her stories recorded while she could still recall them.
Despite growing up across the street, it turns out Sanders didn’t know her grandmother well. It wasn’t until she began asking detailed questions about her past that she began to see a three-dimensional person who had many memorable experiences over the course of her life.
“She was a little girl seeing an airplane for the first time,” says Sanders. “She was a teenager playing basketball. She was graduating from college and getting her first job. She was getting married and having children. In other words, her life was a lot like mine. That realization changed everything. My seemingly “ordinary” grandma was truly extraordinary!”
That realization also inspired the idea for her business, LifeBio, which helps everyday people preserve the story of their lives.
She kicked off the business with LifeBio.com, which provides a Web platform for building biographies, then added LifeBio Memory Journal books. Sanders figured out that some of her customers wanted to be online and some wanted to be offline.
“A LifeBio consumer client may give a Memory Journal to her mom for Mother’s Day and then help her type her memories online at LifeBio.com,” she says. “Over time, we began building our business-to-business clientele in health care. As a result, we developed and changed both our web-based system and our physical tools to meet their needs.”
Senior living communities, nursing homes, hospices, and hospitals can now become LifeBio authorized organizations and license the company’s technology and tools so they can offer them to clients.
Back in 2000, Sanders noticed a void in the market for a product like the one she envisioned.
“I looked around and saw a lot of expensive video services that were doing this type of personal history work,” she says. “I thought that there needed to be a better way, a simple, affordable way to get it done. After all, everyone has a story to tell. The web was the perfect medium for creating a “do-it-yourself” biography, and families began helping older loved ones answer the biography questions online, too. The website generates an instant, ready-to-print document and members can also order a leather-bound edition of the book.”
Two things have surprised Sanders since she started LifeBio, one being how truly amazing and resilient people are.
“It’s hard getting older,” she says. “I see a lot of people who take the challenges in stride. I have the best job in the world because I gain wisdom and strength from the people I meet in this work.”
The other surprise is how much can be learned by listening customers.
“LifeBio has developed a robust system to make it easy for health care clients to reminisce and record the essence of life experiences. But it took time to build everything— the web platform, the Life Story Journal and other physical tools, and the curriculum and training that our health care clients need.”
Ultimately, LifeBio aims to give people the same eye-opening experience Sanders got when her grandmother shared her life story.
“Once you see the whole person and all they have been through in the roller coaster of life, it really does change everything,” she says. “That’s how we reduce ageism.”
Sanders predicts her work is going to be incredibly important as the Baby Boomers continue hitting retirement age.
“Our prejudices toward older people must end, and their wisdom and experience needs to be valued more,” she adds.
LifeBio is currently seeking more health care clients in the Columbus market who want their patients or clients to experience the clinical benefits that come from reminiscence.
“We’re in 23 states, but we would like to connect more in our local community,” she says.
To learn more about LifeBio, visit LifeBio.com.