Reminiscence isn’t new. Before the printing press, storytellers and bards were how history was recorded-
Oral storytellers gave us the Odyssey and another valiant tales. History exists in their family, and Ulysses or Penelope might be sitting at your barbecue this coming holiday- 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 the coming festivities with aging parents—a perfect time to do this.
1. Use empathetic listening. This means to make all the messages you are are giving the older person— tone, how fast you speak, how they are sitting- all saying, “I want to listen to them.”
2. 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.
3. 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.” What did you do on Christmas day. Did you open gifts at a special time?.” What was your favorite food on the holidays” ” ( you might ask before and make that special cookie and offer it to them?
5. Simple ways to spark reminiscence on Holidays :
- Look at old photos together; perhaps from Christmas past or can be anytime. Choose ones from a period of time the person currently remembers, which could be the person as a young adult, teenager, or even a young child.
- Sing holiday songs together or play them on Alexa. Choose carols and songs the older person remembers well.
Enjoy a food that is a family tradition or specialty, particularly ones that have an element of memory attached from family celebrations perhaps?
- Attend a Christmas service where the elder enjoys the sensory experiences of the smells and the bells -the sight of the pageantry, smell of incense or, sound of a choir and quiet prayer said together and touch.
Here are two technology tools to help you with this legacy building for your older client or family member
7. Use Quick Voice Recorder to catch the memory on your phone
8. Use some prompts for questions to ask that will help older people reminisce
Reminiscence is part of a whole new domain in aging called quality of life or attending to the older person’s need for joy through activities that stimulate the mind. Reminiscence does that but find out more about how you can increase the quality of life of older people after the holidays and all year long
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