Providing care for your elderly parents can be demanding, but it’s also full of joyous opportunities. Here’s some motivation for creating positive memories with your parents, as well as practical ways to get started.
Major Reasons to Make Family Memories
1. Honor your parents. Older people benefit from remaining mentally active and connected to others. Help them share their wisdom, and let them know they still make an important contribution to the family. Everyone wants to feel recognized and respected. Your efforts will add to your parents’ quality of life.
2. Enjoy the time you spend with your parents. Pressures build up when you’re caring for your parents and your own children. Sharing positive memories is one of the best rewards for all this hard work. Looking back may also help you to heal past conflicts that might interfere with a closer relationship.
3. Preserve memories for your children. Keep precious family customs, traditions, and rituals going strong from one generation to the next. Grandparents enrich your children’s lives with an abundance of love and attention. Make the most of the time they spend together.
How to Capture Your Memories
1. Reminisce. Encourage your parents to talk about their lives. Select a comfortable setting and a time free from interruptions. Ask open-ended questions and listen attentively. Remember to be sensitive to their reactions. Some subjects may be too painful to discuss.
2. Record your sessions. Video and audio recordings create priceless reminders of your loved ones. Make sure to get their permission first. Some people may find audio recordings more comfortable than video. Others may prefer filming the whole family rather than being the sole subject.
3. Eat together. Family dinners are a powerfully bonding ritual. If you live close by, set aside one night a week for dining together. For longer distances, take full advantage of holiday gatherings and other special occasions.
4. Cook together. Go one step further and prepare special dishes together. You’ll be ensuring that all those favorite family recipes get passed along. For a lasting memento, assemble a cookbook with step-by-step instructions and photos.
5. Go on outings. If your parents are up to it, include them in planning your next vacation. Even with limited mobility, there may be day outings that you can all enjoy. Look for family movies or lecture series at local museums.
6. Take a trip to your parents’ hometown. For an unforgettable outing, take a trip back to where your parents grew up. This adventure is bound to trigger a lot of memories, so you may learn interesting things you never knew about the people who raised you.
7. Plan a family reunion. Maybe your parents would be thrilled to bring everyone together in one place. The internet makes it easier than ever to locate distant relatives. Delegate responsibilities so everyone can participate without getting overburdened.
8. Organize old photos and home movies. Sit down with your parents and sort through the old albums and movies a little at a time. With a home scanner, you can digitize the images yourself or save time by taking them to a photo lab. Store the originals in archival quality albums or boxes. Using acid-free paper will slow down the deterioration process.
9. Fill in your family tree. Sketch out your family tree and ask your parents to fill in as many names and details as possible. If this whets your curiosity, there are many resources online or at the library to guide you through further research.
10. Enjoy keepsakes. Ask your parents for the stories behind the objects they collect and the souvenirs they’ve accumulated. Look through the attic for forgotten treasures.
Sharing family memories draws us closer together across the generations. Help your parents enjoy their elder years and share their wisdom with you and their grandchildren.