University of Nevada, Reno


About Us


Dr. Claudia Collins teaching a class.Life Stories Nevada is a project of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, a division of the University of Nevada, Reno. The project was conceived and designed by Dr. Claudia Collins, associate professor and aging specialist, with assistance from Heidi Petermeier, program officer, and Jean Reid Norman, community based instructor and webmaster.


This website is an online repository of stories collected during the project's four-week autobiography workshops conducted at senior centers, assisted living facilities and other sites.  The project is designed to assist participants write their life story. 


Research has illustrated the importance of personal narrative to improve memory and promote self-esteem, which can lead to extended independence and more successful aging.  Life Stories Nevada focuses strongly on writing rather than just reminiscing, because we want participants to create a legacy for their loved ones. 


Dr. Collins also created and oversees these programs:


Seniors CAN


Seniors CAN is a life skills educational program to optimize successful aging by improving older adults’ quality of life and help them maintain high-quality independent living. This program addresses the needs of southern Nevada’s rapidly growing elderly population in Clark County.  The Seniors CAN curriculum includes 15 lessons on nutrition, personal safety, food safety, finance, general health and productivity over a 16-week period. Each student receives an average of 32 hours of instruction over the four-month period.


Health Education for Assisted Living (HEAL)


HEAL is a 13-week health and wellness program that helps residents make a positive transition to assisted living and maintain good health by encouraging socialization; providing learning opportunities; and presenting skills and information that enhances the quality of their lives. 


Consistent findings demonstrate that a sense of control and positive self-evaluations are related to better health and lower levels of functional impairment.  HEAL provides personalized education in a supportive learning environment and helps participants incorporate information directly into their everyday lives. 


The ultimate objective of HEAL is to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, thus preventing declines that lead to nursing home admission.