I’ve had many people ask me how RetroScripts came to be. I can honestly say that it was my frustration and anger towards not being able to help ease the fear that people encounter in life, my need to find a purpose in the world and personal soul searching that lead me to create this business.
During my time working at Long Term Care Facilities, I cared for many elderly residents who were often confused and scared due to Alzheimer’s and Dementia. More often than not it was a terrifying experience for both the resident and their families.
The anxiety attacks, frustration, and outbursts of anger that I witnessed struck deep in my heart. The people whom I was caring for would often wake up scared, crying and searching for reminders of the person they once were. I can remember several nights driving home from work with tears streaming down my face because I just didn’t know what to do or how to help. I began daydreaming on these drives, trying to come up with things that I could do to make life more manageable for these people. On a particularly stressful day shift, I met a lady who was 98 years old and suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. She would often wake up in the morning and lash out at the people who were caring for her. She would hit, scratch, and kick at us, but from looking in her eyes, I knew that this behaviour didn’t come from a place of hatred, but instead a place of fear. That shift I sat and I wrote a short story for her that included a synopsis of her morning routine, who her family was, random facts about her personality, as well as her likes and dislikes. Although this didn’t help to retrieve any memories that were tucked behind her fog, it seemed to calm her down, and the reading of this book became a part of her morning routine. She no longer kicked, scratched or hit us, and instead would listen to the book and attempt to follow the instructions within it or just sit in a calm state.
I currently work at a Hospice in the GTA and a lot of my time is spent trying to make people as comfortable and as peaceful as possible in their final weeks, days or hours of their lives. I love this job and have learned a lot from the people that I work with. Not only is it rewarding to care for someone before they have a peaceful death, but it also is enriching to see the number of volunteers, caregivers, and professionals who come together during such a delicate time. I have witnessed all kinds of deaths, and I’m happy to report that most are peaceful, but there are those that are more difficult. After speaking to many of the patients before they passed on, I learned that it wasn’t the fear of death itself that caused stress and anxiety, but instead, it was the fear of being forgotten. The idea of leaving behind family, friends and loved ones who don’t know their life stories or who they truly were was what created a rift in their death experience. One lady in particular shared with me her feelings on the idea that she would one day cease to exist. She was excited for her journey into the unknown, and to relieve the pain that she felt, but was grief-stricken at the prospect of becoming just another obituary. She found it hard to handle the thought that her grandchildren would never know her history or the adventures that she had taken.
All of these experiences, conversations and moments left me feeling determined and excited to launch a new path in my life. I sat down and brainstormed ways to blend my English Degree, my Post Graduate Journalism Diploma with my PSW Diploma. I decided to take a leap of faith by starting my own business, and after many hours of deliberation decided to remain on at the Hospice, but quit my part time reception position at a Physiotherapy Clinic.
RetroScripts began as a book writing business that records the stories of people living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia and those in End of Life Care. After sitting down with each client and their families to voice record their life stories, and messages, the voice recording is then transcribed into a hardcover book complete with images and quotes. I believe that these memory books are the perfect reference for someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia during episodes of panic and stress. The messages from their caretakers, families, and friends can help ease them into a place of familiarity and calmness. A person who is coming to the end of their life at home, in hospice or the hospital could benefit immensely with the opportunity to leave behind a special message for their friends and family. Their books could speak of their dreams, their past adventures, stories, secrets and reminders of who they are and who they wanted to be.
The idea behind RetroScripts led me to think that we shouldn’t wait for a tragedy to strike before recording these memories. A few months after it was launched, I expanded RetroScripts to include people looking to memorialise their weddings, anniversaries, births, milestones and family history.
I’m proud to say that RetroScripts continues to develop and grow as time goes by. After speaking with a colleague at the hospice Christmas party about how much motivation boards have changed my life, I decided to create two workshops. The first is a Motivation Board Workshop which uses boards with motivational images, quotes, and blurbs to curb the feeling of worthlessness and break down the circle of self-defeat that people with chronic illness or injuries often encounter. The second is a vision board workshop that uses words, pictures, and quotes to create a clear path towards specific goals. Both of these workshops use visualisation to create the life people want and encourage others to network with like-minded individuals to work towards their goals.
I look forward to further expanding RetroScripts and spreading positivity, strength, and courage to my community and hopefully one day the world. As it continues to grow, so does my knowledge of people, specific illnesses and how to make life what you want it to be. I look forward to working with and helping all of my future clients!