Frequently Asked Questions

Please be sure to contact us if any of your questions are not answered here. We are committed to producing high-quality, gorgeous life stories for an underserved population that gets better with age.
What is the process for creating a Life Story?
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.
If I'm not the person being interviewed, do I need to be on-site or available during 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.
My father/mother never talks about the past. Why would they talk about it with you – a stranger?
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.
Why should I hire you when I can create a life story on my smartphone?
If you have the skills and the equipment, don't hesitate to record your loved one's personal history. Our service speaks to the reality that family members aren't always as candid with relatives as they are with objective observers, and to value of a professional, well-crafted narrative produced by a seasoned interviewer and videographer. We are expert storytellers with the experience and know-how to get the job done. Whatever you decide, don't wait. None of us knows how long we have on this earth, and there's no time like the present to capture a story.
Why create and Ethical Will?
COVID-19 has led many of us to examine our passions and values, who we love and why. Ethical wills are a way of writing down these thoughts and sharing them with those you love. Among their many benefits: they can remind us of our obligations to each other; they promote peacefulness; pride in accomplishments and can be a statement of things a person still wants to do. Although they are NOT about airing grievances, ethical wills can also be a way of reaching out to someone who is estranged, to acknowledge a past mistake and make amends. Best of all, articulating your values helps you live more intentionally.
Where are you located?
Our team is located in the West Palm Beach, Florida area, and we are happy to travel up to 35 miles outside zip code 33401 for in-person interviews. Please inquire about our travel rates for any in-person interviews beyond the 35-mile radius.
How do I receive the final audio or video file?
Final, polished video is delivered via Vimeo, YouTube or Dropbox. If you would prefer, we can deliver your video on a USB drive or a DVD. Audio-only interviews are sent via email or Dropbox; we can also send your audio file on a USB drive.
What happens to the audio and/or video files after you deliver the final life story?
All of the elements are archived on an external hard drive in order to make any requested updates; i.e., to edit the material for use at a reunion or a memorial service, or to make extra copies at your request.
How do I get started?
Click the "Contact Us" button in the lower right corner of this page, and let us know what service you're interested in!

A final thought from Jana…

You've probably guessed that I really like making older adults feel comfortable. Why? Because it pains me to know that too often in America, older adults are viewed as a burden or nothing more than a reliable voting bloc or an easy mark for tiresome, ageist jokes. Rarely are older adults seen for who they are: resilient individuals with rich, layered histories that younger generations can learn from. A big reason I founded Life Stories for the Ages was to validate and amplify the voices of this pioneering generation whose lives are worth celebrating. Please email me ( with any questions or concerns you may have about our process or service, so that we can help you or someone you love give the gift of a lifetime.
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