Reminiscence isn’t new. Before the printing press, storytellers and bards were how history was recorded-
Oral storytellers gave us the Odyssey and other valiant tales. History exists in their family, and Ulysses or Penelope might be sitting at your barbecue this coming Memorial Day- in the form of your aging parents.
But storytelling only works if the teller remembers the lines. Family history has to be captured when the older person still remembers. So holiday events are a perfect time to tap into that font before it flickers.
Here are some tips to use if they want to capture these family tales during Memorial Day weekend with aging parents—a perfect time to do this. Use empathetic listening if they can. Make all the messages you are are giving the older person— tone, how fast you speak, how they are sitting- say, “I want to listen to them.”
Ask questions that prompt the story but don’t make judgments. If there 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 the elder isn’t going to tell stories on his or her own, start the story and see if they will follow along.” Did you go to Memorial Day parades when you were a kid or march in one after the war ( pick his war).” Did your parents have barbecues to start the summer”
Here are two technology tools to help you with this legacy building for your older client
Quick Voice Recorder to catch the memory on your phone
Check out my Book Handbook of Geriatric Care Management with more tools for legacy building written by David Lindeman Director Of the Center for Technology at UC Berkeley and Julie Menack of 21 st Care Solutions