Family Caregiving Offers a Great Opportunity to Gather Memories Before They Are Lost
Today’s article is written in honor of not one but two special November distinctions: National Family Caregivers Month and Family Stories Month. We thought this would be a good time to talk about the role of family caregiving in San Francisco and elsewhere and how it can be a wonderful opportunity to gather memories from your aging loved ones before they are lost. If you have a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, you may be saddened at the eventual loss of the memories, stories, and traditions that have defined them for many years. But all is not lost.
We know family caregiving isn’t easy. It can be very stressful, time-consuming, and heartbreaking. But in between those moments of bringing them to appointments or cooking for them, you can find opportunities to share memories. These times between you will be cherished long after they are gone.
Fascinating Family Histories
Family history can be a fascinating thing indeed. But if you don’t preserve those histories, timelines, and legacies, they can be largely lost through the passage of time. Once your parent or other loved one passes on, if they haven’t shared their stories, those stories become faded and lost. Here’s why family stories are so important to share before it’s too late.
- They help us remember our history, our culture, and where we came from.
- They teach us the values of our ancestors.
- They teach children important life lessons as they make a connection with their elders.
- They allow families to spend quality time together and share their stories.
- They provide an outlet for families to share memories while promoting understanding and appreciation for family traditions.
- They teach us about our heritage and how we are connected to one another.
- They teach us a sense of self, family, and community, says PBS.
So how can you set the stage for sharing memories? From making meals together to listening to tunes, here are some ways to get your loved ones to open up and reminisce.
- Prepare a favorite family recipe together. If it has been prepared by memory up till now, this is the time to get it in writing. In fact, if your parent has several recipes they have enjoyed making over their lifetimes, record those recipes and make a homemade cookbook for future generations to enjoy.
- Tell stories. Come up with a lead-off to guide the storytelling, such as “the craziest thing I ever did was…”, “my proudest achievement was…”, “I knew I loved your father/grandfather when…”, etc. You can also ask about stories according to child/grandchild, and ask them to reminisce how they were as babies, toddlers, teens, etc.
- Watch family-friendly movies together. You can do this all in one day or choose to do this over a few days or weekends. Choose your loved one’s favorite movies, play homemade family videos, or movies that you all enjoyed as a family growing up.
- Read stories. Break out the old storybooks and take turns reading passages aloud. If you still have all your old children’s books, make a plan now to preserve them for future generations.
- Get a family portrait done. Sure, you may have a bunch of snapshots of all of you taken over the years, but there’s something special about a professional photo that can really capture a moment in time. These photos will be cherished by all family members and friends throughout the years, no matter how much time passes.
- Build a photo book. Speaking of photos, it’s time to compile a photo book of all the snapshots that have been building up on online sites. It’s easier to flip through a book of memories than it is to gather in front of a computer. Photo albums have a way of bringing generations together.
- Pass down heirlooms. If there are special family heirlooms or collectibles that your loved one would like to pass on to a younger member of the family, now is the time to do that. This way, they can see their grandchild’s reaction rather than wait until they pass.
- Make a family video. A video biography captures family stories, as well as your elder’s voice, personality, and image, points out AgingCare. Have your parent respond to questions from family members. Talking is usually easier for them than writing memories down.
Taking time to preserve memories now will give you great joy and peace of mind later knowing you captured your loved one’s essence. So what are you waiting for? Gather those memories before they are lost!
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
We value the special role family caregivers provide, and we do all we can to work with them in a supportive way to ensure loved ones are treated with dignity, respect, and compassion. Learn more about our caregivers and what we do at 888-978-1306.