Want a perfect Valentines’s gift for aging clients?
You already have it. A great Valentine’s for your older client is you the care manager, caregiver or family member- using reminiscence to gather an elders’ memories.
Reminiscence isn’t new. Before the printing press, storytellers and bards were how history was recorded-
Oral storytellers gave us the Odyssey and other oral tales. History exists in a family, and Ulysses or Penelope might be sitting in their home on Valentines’ Day- in the form of your aging clients.
But storytelling or reminiscence 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 or dries up.
Here are some tips to use if you want to capture these family tales during Valentine’s visit with older clients—a perfect time to do this before age or dementia wipe their history.
- Give Valentine’s gift each week of the year. Use StoryWorth. My daughter Kali Peterson Murphy, who is also in aging as a Program Officer, with the SCAN Foundation, purchased this as a Holiday gift for my husband and her Dad Pete. I love this as a user and a Geriatric care manager. Each week it prompts Pete to answer a question that my daughter chooses when she purchases StoryWorth. Pete can actually change the questions to be ones he wants to answer. Pete writes the answers and I record them on my iPhone and send them into Story Worth with photos that I have gathered of Pete’s life and stored on Google Photos.( this is an option) At the end of the year, her about to be 79-year-old Dad gets a book with all his stories.
It is a slam dunk for reminiscence. The adult child and or family receive the family history to be passed down, the older family members get to both tell her or his story and know that their family is interested in what they have to share from their past and in the end get a book about their lifeform it a fabulous gift.
Order it from Valentine’s Day tomorrow and you will have a year full of family history, an aging adult who knows you care about listening to them and an incredible gift of a reminiscence book for next Valentines’ Day and the rest of your life that you can pass down.
If you visit Reminiscence Tips
2. First, arrive with a real Valentine card and a small sensory gift like a little chocolate or some fresh red and white flowers. Just the card and the gift evoke memories
3. Use empathetic listening Make all the messages you give the older person— tone, how fast you speak, how they are sitting- say, “I want to listen to you.” This in itself is a gift to an older person as few people really listen to them as they age.
4. Ask questions that prompt the story but don’t make judgments. If there are going to record the family tale, as on your I phone, do it in a way that doesn’t distract or stop the older person from talking.
5. You might ask the client or the family for some family photos of the older person growing up, getting married, and use those as memory prompts.
6. 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 Valentine’s parties when you were a kid or celebrate the day in school by exchanging valentines .” Did you have a special valentine as a teenager or young adult?”
7. If the client has dementia you can still do this with reminiscence prompts like a valentine, chocolate, some flowers or a simple valentine decoration you bring.
8. Use technology tools to help you with this legacy-building for your older client like Life Bio- or
Quick Voice Recorder to catch the memory on your phone.
Follow Cathy Jo Cress’s posts in geriatric care management