After you choose a package and we receive your initial deposit, we send you a preliminary questionnaire in order to gather some basic facts. This questionnaire is filled out by the person being interviewed with help from a family member if necessary, and returned before the actual interview takes place. If visual elements are being included in your life story, we email you a list of suggested items to gather such as old letters or photographs that are of significance to the person being interviewed. Once the items are gathered, you scan them and upload the digital files to a Dropbox link provided to you. Alternatively, these items may be mailed or handed-off to Jana in person, and she will arrange to have the items digitized and returned promptly to you. A date and time for the recorded interview will be scheduled. For phone interviews we request the call be received on a landline if possible. In-person interviews can be conducted wherever you like, including in a care facility, provided you have obtained permission from the facility. We promise to deliver your final, polished life story within 30 days of completing the interview.
Only if your loved one needs special assistance. We actually prefer that the interview subject only be present, because when family members are not around it is easier for people to speak candidly, and tell stories they may otherwise be reluctant to tell.
Even with older adults, a generation that equates talking about themselves with bragging, it is often easier to open up with someone you don’t know well rather than with a family member or close friend. We’ll leave it to the psychologists to explain why, but one thing is certain: Life Stories for the Ages founder Jana Panarites has spent several years interviewing dozens of strangers who have opened up and shared with her both painful and hilarious life experiences. She may be a stranger, but she is a skilled journalist and a really good listener.