Kimmel Education and Research Center


Date of this Version



NebGuide G1722 (July 2007)


Copyright (c) 2007 University of Nebraska.


Whether you are writing a journal or are helping an elderly relative write, this NebGuide will provide tips on how to make that process work.

Have you ever wished that you could read about the lives of your grandmother or grandfather? Where did they live? What were their lives like? How did they meet their spouse? What were the major turning points in their life? A family journal can answer those questions for generations to come. A family journal provides descendants with a firsthand account of family members’ lives, but the benefits begin long before the journal is read. Research indicates that individuals who pursue reminiscence work, such as writing a journal or verbally sharing personal history, are more likely to implement change in their own lives. Through reflection, they are able to understand who they are in the present and how they are shaped by their past experiences. Research also indicates that elderly participants are more likely to achieve a sense of life satisfaction, reduce signs of depression, and reconnect with their social networks. When beginning the journaling process it is important to understand that everyone’s life is a series of unique events. Everyone has a story to tell, each story being as unique as a snowflake.