As we grow older, most of us wonder what legacy we will leave behind. How will we be remembered by loved ones and friends is a question many ask. Feeling as if we’ve made a difference in the world is important.
Sharing memories and family history with the younger generations can help forge intergenerational bonds and build a legacy. Reminiscing is a great way for older adults to do this.
Benefits of Reminiscing
Let's first talk about the mental, physical, and emotional benefits of reminiscing with an older loved one:
- Promotes self-esteem: Giving an older adult time to share their memories makes them the center of attention. For seniors, having an interested audience can be a boost to their confidence and self-esteem.
- Builds relationships:nThe very act of sharing memories builds bonds, especially across the generations. It can help the younger generations better understand the contributions an elder has made to the family and to the world around them.
- Mental exercise: For adults with dementia who may struggle with short-term memory, going back in time can help stimulate memories not yet lost. It can evoke happier times and leave the elder feeling positive and connected.
When a senior in the family has dementia, however, families often worry their stories will be lost for good. When a senior in the family has dementia, however, families often worry their stories will be lost for good.
This is where the StoryCorps Memory Loss Initiative (MLI) can come in.
What is StoryCorps?
StoryCorps is a non-profit organization dedicated to “collecting, sharing, and storing” people’s stories. In 2006, StoryCorps launched the MLI to make it easier for families and caregivers to preserve the stories of adults with memory loss.
MLI interviews can be conducted in person if you live in San Francisco, Chicago, or Atlanta; by participating in the Mobile Studio Tour; or by using the StoryCorps app. All of the interviews are then archived in the Library of Congress to become part of the nation’s oral history.
The StoryCorps Mobile Booth moves across the country each year utilizing a renovated Airstream as the recording studio. It typically visits 12 cities each year.
The StoryCorps mobile phone app makes it possible for anyone with a smartphone to record their loved one’s interview. The app features a sharing button that instantly uploads the interview to StoryCorps and the Library of Congress collection.
DIY Legacy Planning
If you prefer to go it alone when it comes to documenting your family’s stories and history, you can still use some of StoryCorps questions to create your own legacy project.
Sit down with your senior loved one and record the interaction on your smart phone or camera. Or better yet, have someone else record both of you talking. You might even want to have other members of the family participate in the interviews. Then share the results with family and friends via social media or email.
Follow Vitality on Facebook
Interested in seeing how Vitality Senior Living residents continue to create new stories? Follow us on Facebook! You’ll see the stories and memories our residents, families, and caregivers make every day.