Capture Family Tales From Aging Parents
Have you captured family tales from older family members? Or have you lost an aging parent and wished you had asked them more questions about their past, your family history, and your childhood? Have you dabbled in ancestry and realized that you could have just listened closely to the stories your deceased parents told you and written them down?
Do not look back! Make this New Year the year you collect the stories from your family. Learn to use ten reminiscence tools, technology, and techniques to hear family history at holiday dinners and events during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or New Year.
10 Tips to Capture Family Tales from Aging Parents
1. Use empathetic listening. This means to make all the messages you give the older person— tone, how fast you speak, how they are sitting- all say, “I want to listen to you.”
2. Ask questions that prompt the story, but don’t make judgments. If you will 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 was a New Year’s Resolution that you made and kept?” ” Do you remember your favorite doll? ” What was your first day of school like?”
4. Music is just next to memory in the brain, as shown by Alive Inside, So use Alexa or Spotify, to play 40’s
and 50’s music or especially the -Simple ways to spark reminiscence when you visit older family members :
5. Look at old photos together. Photos trigger memory even with dementia. Choose ones from a period the person currently remembers, which could be the person as a young adult, teenager, or even a young child.
6. Play music from their teenage years. It is the background to the most emotional period of anyone’s life and is deeply lined into memory.
7. Enjoy food they like or food that is a family tradition or specialty, particularly ones that have an element
of Memory attached to family celebrations. Like Mom’s Briscut, Dad’s Sunday Supper lasagna, or “Aunt Helen’s Lemon Cake.”
8. Story Worth was started by Nick Baum, a tecky who was, in a way, a long-distance care provider for his parents in Sweden. He was curious about their past and invented the app based on his own need to gather his family history. My husband is a teller of past tales as a California Highway patrolman, then Hippiedom, then as top marketing director for Pacific Cookie Company, the best cookies here in the west.
Our daughter Kali gave him Story Worth as a holiday gift. He wrote down 40 stories or memories from his past. They were being published by Story Worth in a book, saving in print the precious reminiscence that would have been lost but now is found in a book that was given to our adult children and then generations to come.
This is a brilliant way to capture reminiscence and I recommend it to adult children who want to enshrine personal memories in print that otherwise would be lost when they reach back for them.
9. Life Bio- provides an online template of biography and autobiography questions that have been carefully crafted
10. Quick Voice Recorder to catch the memory on your phone
Use reminiscence as a 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- so find out more about how you can increase the quality of life of older people after the holidays and all year long by building a quality-of-life reminiscence program like Nina Herndon describes in her chapter on Quality of Life in Handbook of Geriatric Care Management.