What do our seniors have that we are losing?
We’re losing our seniors, one senior at a time, and I don’t just mean physically, but their history, what’s in their mind, their head, their thoughts, and their heart. Grandma’s still here, but someday she won’t be. That experience, that history of where we come from and who was before us, that is what we are losing.
What kind of history is being lost?
As we talk to our seniors in our homes and we hear their stories about their lives, I wonder how many of their kids or grandkids have even heard those stories, I know at some point those kids will look forward and backward. They’re going to say, what about Grandpa? Who was he really? What did he do? Where did he live? And there’s not going to be anybody there to tell them that story.
What can we do in our homes to help preserve that history?
One of the things we do in our Residential Assisted Living homes is record that history. It could be on audio or video. We have those conversations with those seniors. To have them explain where they were. How did they meet their spouse? What languages do they speak? Where do they go on missions? It’s like when you and I watch something like Titanic and think about those people back then, what they wore and what they did and what they thought. Imagine talking to somebody of that age where you can have the conversation about what were you doing and thinking. What happened during the Great Depression? What was going on in the street and in the home? That history is being lost, but being able to record it and preserve it and give it to the kids. It can be life changing for them, something that is very valuable for them.
How can the families get that history?
I want to encourage you to have those conversations with people in your life. Talk to them and just open up the conversation and say, you know, I never heard the story about how you met mom or grandma. I never knew about your brother, my uncle Bob. Why don’t you tell me about that? and ask them about the music. What kind of music did you listen to, and how did you listen to it? You’re going to find out that some of them used to dance up a storm. They’ve been doing it for a long time in “zoot suits” and all kinds of things. May I suggest that before grandma’s not able to think it through, have her identify the people in the pictures. Pictures may speak a thousand words, but watch the smile come on their face as they describe the stories.
Why do this now?
Because once they’re gone, that history is truly gone. And I also encourage you to preserve the history that you do have on film, VHS videotape, and pictures and transfer it into a digital format. Save their history. Preserve their memory.
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