How might we encourage the elderly to talk about their biography?

Company / Organization

St. Pölten University Of Applied Sciences


Assigned to



Gabriele Falböck



Due to the demographic development, there is a steady increase in the number of elderly people. The reversal of the age pyramid and with it the increase of the average age in European societies is being examined since the 1990. In the last few years biographical work has become of a greater importance in nursing science and geriatrics. Biography means identity, social affiliation, culture, community and self-worth. What positive effect does it have for elderly people? They practice their cognitive abilities, because they reflect on their life story. The life stories become more meaningful when told to an active listener. The elderly people gain more self-worth because their stories are being heard by someone who is actually interested in them.

Furthermore, those stories are an important part for our society and the following generations. They contain knowledge that has been forgotten. In a new I Living Lab with the challenge „How might we encourage the elderly to tell us their biography?”, students can gain some knowledge in the aspects of what a successful life in previous generations can look like. Furthermore, they learn about everyday life in general with focus on their region and about struggles and learnings in the life of “common people”. They can also develop a possible solution to safe these stories for the families and present the diverse knowledge (places, rituals, changes, crises and survival) for society.

Last but not least: With listening to others people’s life stories students will start to reflect on their own life, their roots and their cultural heritage. Maybe they will see their life and their life decisions in a different light.

This challenge was submitted in May 2022.

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