© The Author(s) 2013. We employed an auto-ethnography approach to explore the affective dimension of life review sessions with community-dwelling older military veterans with minor cognitive impairment (MCI) and early dementia. Using researchers’ analytic memos, we identified facilitators’ interactional strategies that fostered the participant’s sense of personal identity, dignity and social self-worth. Interaction among participant, caregiver, and facilitators evoked a range of emotional responses, offering a window into the affective world of MCI and early dementia. Positive emotional responses outnumbered negative emotional responses by a ratio of two-to-one in the life review sessions; however, negative emotions were more revelatory of current struggles with declines in health and function. Facilitators utilized two interactional strategies, in particular, to foster personhood and social value of participants: focusing on the participant and creating an empathic connection with the participant. Further work is needed to understand the role of emotions in research interactions and to examine the psychosocial mechanisms through which positive affect functions in promoting identity, personhood and social value among persons with MCI and early dementia.