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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Elders Enjoy Helping With Family History

Traditionally elderly people were the storytellers who preserved family stories and legends. Today, seniors often enjoy the social interaction of discussing family history and life stories. I have often thought it helped some of the elderly seniors I've assisted, who live alone, to feel less lonely when they share their life history and memories with me. For many elderly people memories of long ago events are sharper than the details of last week. This is because the earlier memories became part of long term memory, and as we age short term memory starts to lose ability. Storytelling was traditionally the role of the elderly, who preserved the family history, traditions, and legends for the next generation.

Sharing their memories with a younger generation is one way elderly seniors can interact socially, reduce loneliness, and have a hobby of preserving the family history.

Today writing life histories and researching family backgrounds and genealogy are as popular as ever. Dates, names, and events can be researched on the internet. Special reminders can help trigger memories of things that happened fifty or sixty years ago.

As a caregiver I've been surprised when people 95 years old, who have short term memory difficulties, can tell me details of the houses where they grew up 80 years ago. One person whom I assisted turned 100 years old, and was still telling stories of growing up in Minnesota, moving to California, and enjoying the weather and new foods after the move.

Storytelling is still a wonderful activity for elderly seniors, and caregivers and families can enjoy hearing true experiences from history instead of reading about it in books. Recording or writing down the family history can create a treasure to pass on to other generations.

Whenever you don't know how to pass the time of day, you can always ask an elderly person to tell you about life when that person was a child. Frequently even people with memory issues can recall childhood experiences.

There are lots of good internet sites, and one that I stumbled upon is Heirloom Stories. Some people combine reminiscing with making a scrapbook, adding memories to a family cookbook, or writing a memoir. So many memoirs have been published that you never know whose memories may come out as a book next.

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