Here are some more tips to use if you want to help aging families capture family stories during this holiday season—a perfect time to do this.
First of all technology to do this- you or your kids already have it-we all carry it around with us all the time. Use your phone and Quick Voice Recorder and just capture the story. You can also use the photo app video that has the picture and sound if the older person feels comfortable.
1.Use empathetic listening . Of course you can’t make the kids do this, but make all the messages you are giving the older person—your tone, how fast you speak, how you are sitting—make them say, “I want to listen to you.”
2.Ask questions that prompt the story but don’t make judgments. If you are going to record the family tale, do it in a way that doesn’t distract or stop the older person from talking. Start somewhere. If your mom or aunt isn’t going to tell stories on their own, start the story and see if they will follow along. “That chair you are sitting in, where did you get it, Mom?” Pick an ornament off the Christmas tree and show it to your dad to see if he can tell you its story. Show him the family menorah you use and ask for the story of when his family used it on holidays.
3. Reminiscence is sparked by the senses, and buried memories flow into our brains. That’s why the holidays are a perfect time to have your older family members share stories with you. The sense of taste spurs memories. Just think of that stollen or fried donut that tasted a lot like your mom’s. On holidays we serve ritual foods, so the foods themselves served over and over can provoke memories in an older person’s mind. Smell brings back memories.
4 Smells bring back memories .When my granddaughter Julia was 14 she was ace woodshop student. She said she smelled pine in the woodshop last week and it reminded her of the smell of Christmas. When we smell the same foods cooking that we knew in the past, when the whiff of holiday candles or a tree hits our nose, old memories are jarred loose.
5.Sound sets us to thinking, and our minds whirl back to places we have been with just the beginning of one song.I played Frank Sinatra for my late dad every morning when the care provider or I got him up and dressed. He recalled every word of every song and was transported back to a happier time, which threw him into the present a happier 87-year-old. On the holidays we play ritual songs that spur our memories.Watch Alive Inside and the magic of their simple techniques