From earliest childhood, many of us remember sitting at the knee of a parent or grandparent hearing about their adventures and life lessons. In fact, it is often those lessons learned and the wisdom shared that strengthens families and carries them through difficult times, generation after generation. There is no better way to preserve family legacy and reinforce the bond between seniors and their children and grandchildren than spending time together talking, listening and sharing.
Even more important, what better way to make older relatives feel loved and appreciated than letting them know that their wisdom will be passed down long after they are gone. Sharing family history doesn’t just benefit the recipients of a grandparent’s wisdom. There is scientific evidence that reminiscing is also good for the seniors telling their stories.
In The Power of Telling Family Stories, experts say that for seniors, sharing family history not only “improves cognition, lessens depression, and improves behavioral functioning,” but also boosts self-esteem and lessens stress. It may also help older relatives recognize the value and importance of their lives in fresh new ways.
The best ways to ensure that family stories are shared and passed down is to permanently capture them in video, audio, or print.
Some tips to get started in recording your family history:
- Gather, label and scrapbook family photos
- Record simple videos or audio on your phone or other easy to use & carry equipment
- Record favorite recipes
- View old home movies making notes of who is included, a time frame & where it was shot
There are companies like StoryWorth and others that take a family’s written recollections and binds them into beautiful keepsakes. Other companies like Cider Spoon Stories that interview seniors and write a book based on the history. And the nonprofit Story Corps helps anyone set up interviews with loved ones – in person or through an app -that will be preserved and housed in the Library of Congress.
At the end of the day, it is vitally important for all of us to feel like our lives matter. For seniors, it is also a comfort knowing that the wisdom they’ve shared will help guide their family long after they are gone. In fact, what more in life is there than knowing your loved ones will always remember and value your life well lived. What a wonderful activity to do with the senior in your life, as you visit them in a community, or even as you care for them at home.