Sharing Stories Across Generations
Sometimes it may seem difficult for seniors to relate to younger generations. But one of the fun activities for seniors you can help facilitate brings generations together while engaging the elderly and creating a family heirloom that will be cherished for years to come. Life Journaling can be a fun and relaxing way for seniors to preserve the stories they always tell (or those they always wanted to tell), to share those stories with children or grandchildren, and rejuvenate that sense of pride in their accomplishments. It can also help overcome depression, set future goals, and even fight off lonliness.
What is Life Journaling?
No doubt you’ve heard your loved one toy with the idea of writing a memoir—usually in the coulda-shoulda-woulda tone of voice. Maybe they’ve even joked about it for years. But what even they may not realize is that the desire to have your personal story remembered after you’re gone is a very powerful and universal urge. Anyone who has lived a long life–no matter how thrilling or mundane–has decade’s worth of stories inside them. Whether those stories are of national importance (such as the tales or World War Veterans), or are only important to close family members, each of these tales is worhty of telling, of preservation, and of really being listened to.
Regardless of what anyone thinks, it’s never too late to preserve that unique heritage.
The thing that stops most people from doing just this is that they think they have to actually write a memoir. Writing a book seems like a daunting task, a chore, not something that’s simply done for the fun of it. You need skills, resources, time, and then what do you do with it when you’re done?
That’s where Life Journaling comes in. Removing the stigma and expectations associated with a memoir allows older individuals to free themselves and approach the project as a series of fun activities for seniors rather than a project that has to be slogged through to the bitter end.
And another good thing about creating a life journal is that it doesn’t even have to be a book at all. It can be a scrapbook, a themed photo album, an audio recording, or even video. As long as those irreplaceable life stories are captured in an artistic medium they can be passed down, preserved, and cherished for decades.
Turning a Chore into Fun Activities for Seniors
It’s likely that your senior needs a little help (and a little priodding) when it comes to preserving their memories. And this is where the younger generations come in. Children, grandchildren, and even greatgrandchildren can help elderly individuals by:
Asking questions to get the story rolling
Helping collect art supplies or scrapbooking materials for journals
Gathering family pictures from dusty old albums
Listening to the story as it spills out
Recording the story (either audio or video) while it’s being told
Not only does this engage the whole family, it sparks creativity and brings everyone together in the same room.
A Few Tips for Making Life Journaling Fun
If your loved one prefers to write alone (traditional journaling) that’s perfectly fine. However, most people enjoy a little bit of an audience to enhance the experience and make it feel like they’re telling a story rather than simply putting something on paper.
Here are a few other tips you can use to make the experience as rewarding as possible for everyone involved.
Break-up Sessions: Even fun activities for seniors can become tiring for older individuals. You don’t have to get the entire journal done in a day (if it’s really ever “done”). Break-up the creative sessions into manageable bite-sized chunks (a half-hour to 45 minutes or so).
Bring Rewards: Even seasoned authors use rewards (or bribes) to keep themselves on track. Break out the cookies, or tea, or even candy to signify the completion of a session.
Don’t Be Afraid to Follow the Story: If you set out to tell the tale of your grandmother’s time as a nurse during the Vietnam War, don’t get discouraged when the story strays to the birth of your cousin during that freak snowstorm in November—sometimes allowing for a flexible structure leads to some of the most interesting tales.
Don’t Be Too Judgmental: This journaling process should be an example of fun activities for seniors, not an exercise in stress management for you. The finished product doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer-winning memoir. It can stay right in the family or even right with the older individual—the mental exercise is the important part.
More Resources for Life Journaling with Seniors
If you would like to learn more about life journaling or other fun activities for seniors, the following links will help you explore all the options available to you to make the process as simple and rewarding as possible.
Lifescapes: A Guide for Creating a Writing Program for Seniors
StoryCorps: An organization dedicated to recording every story (they have a ton of resources including “interview” questions on their website.)
Lulu.com: Allows individuals to print high-quality books in any quantity from 1 to 10,000
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care in or near Plano, TX, please call the caring staff at Second Family Home Care at (972) 347-0700.