Students make DVDs of elderly people’s life stories

Denise Reed, activity director at the Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirm in Davenport readies a life story about residents at the home.

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — With help from family members and the creativity of Assumption High School students, some residents of Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirm are seeing their life stories on “the big screen.”

Every Tuesday, residents on the second floor, who have dementia, gather for various activities. One of them is to watch a PowerPoint presentation of the life of each resident, says Denise Reed, activity director at the Kahl Home.

The activities staff works with the family to gather photographs and information about each resident. The residents are asked several questions about their lives and share such things as their favorite color. The information is compiled and passed along to the students, Reed said.

“Second floor is now complete,” Reed said May 15 when Assumption’s advanced graphic arts and design class visited. Art teacher Holly Secker said this was the second year her advanced graphic arts class made the life stories.


Each student received information about one resident to focus on. Then students received additional information to do a portion of another life story. The portions were combined to create that individual’s life story.

Secker said the students were to make 21 slides about each resident and include photos, graphics and text from the information provided. They also added music before recording the production onto a DVD. The students also made covers with each resident’s name and either a photo or graphic to identify each resident’s DVD.

When few photos were provided, students had to get creative. They sought photos of parishes that the residents belonged to or found artwork and graphics to illustrate another aspect of the person’s life on the DVD.

Junior Mark Steinhauser said it was nice to help out the older generation by showing how active they were in their lives. His particular resident’s DVD was a challenge to make. He had few photos, so he had to rely on graphics and other photos he could find. Doing the project was challenging, but not difficult. “It came naturally,” he said.

Each DVD was proofed before it was brought to the Kahl Home. On May 15 the students watched on a large screen the DVDs they had made. It would be shown to residents the following Tuesday.

After the DVDs were viewed, the students were taken to the second-floor lounge. They met a few of the residents they profiled along with others whose DVDs were done last year. The students asked residents questions, listened to a variety of music and even danced with one resident. Following the visits the students took a tour of the facility.

Reed said that when a resident passes away, the DVD is given to the family.

As new residents move onto the second floor, their lives will become the priority for the next round of DVDs. If the current residents remain on second floor and there are no changes, next year’s Assumption class will start making DVDs of residents on other floors at the Kahl Home.

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