If you had two months left to live, are there things you would want to say to your loved ones?
Patients in palliative care experience a lonely and vulnerable journey as they near their end of life, or reach a state of non-recovery. With varying levels of attention from loved ones and medical caretakers (who are assigned to as many as eight other patients at once), patients can struggle to find channels of communication that maintain their sense of identity, pride and agency. During our research, we discovered Dignity Therapy, a psychotherapeutic intervention that aims to relieve psychological and existential distress for patients at the end of life. While proven to be an effective therapeutic exercise, Dignity Therapy is not scalable (requiring one-on-one sessions with a facilitator) and doesn’t allow family members and loved ones to be part of the conversation.
Presenting Memento, a tablet app that allows patients in palliative care to share their memories, life lessons and values to create a lasting legacy — a deeply personal memento.
Memento uses four categories of dignity therapy questions that encourage positive self-reflection — some are purely therapeutic, while others gather legacy stories. All questions — even ones that address regrets and fears — help the patient move forward with closure. Patients can also record unique, personal stories and messages they want to share with loved ones, unrelated to the specific prompts. Many patients in palliative care are older and might have limited mobility of their hands and arms, so Memento offers both text and audio recording ability.
A patient can invite any family member, friend or loved one to ask a question whose answer they want to learn. To maintain a cohesive experience, loved ones must ask questions relevant to the specific Memento prompt categories — as Memento aims to weave the legacy building experience with Dignity Therapy principles.
Mementos can be shared publicly (with anyone with general link access) or privately (with specific individuals). This flexibility ensures patients can create comprehensive legacies that include private messages to share with special people.
Why is it important?
Memento aims to empower patients to feel a sense of hope, meaning, and resilience. It puts a unique power in patients’ hands to shape their personal life narrative and increase and extend their communication with loved ones, beyond the limits of their time on earth.