Innovations in memory care are making it easier to slow the advance of dementia and support people who are experiencing memory loss. But what about when you want to preserve someone’s memories for posterity?
There’s always more to discover about a parent or other loved one. One woman was amazed to find she was still learning information about her 95-year-old dad that she’d never heard before!
Here are eight creative ways to preserve family memories for future generations:
- Video biography. With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to capture your loved one’s voice, image and personality with a smartphone or other digital device. You might record a family member asking your senior some questions about their life, particularly about the era prior to what anyone alive now remembers. Many milestone memories are anchored between the ages of 10 and 30 — and this is also where you may uncover stories you’re not familiar with, simply because the subject has never come up. The woman mentioned above heard a heartwarming tale of her father and his father assembling her parents’ bed in their first apartment, the night before they were to be married.
What about old home movies, recorded in various now-defunct videotape formats? They’re degrading daily, so digitize them ASAP. You can also turn the old film into frameable still photos, cherished mementos to display in your home.
- Photo opportunity. Many families have slides that no one has seen in years (probably because the projector broke, or can’t be located), or shoeboxes full of old photos. You can scan these old prints and create a digital scrapbook that will live forever — as long as you save it properly. Don’t have a scanner? Google PhotoScan is an app that works on your smartphone.
Once you’ve digitized these memories, be sure to back them up to a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive (or both, for extra protection). Another idea is to upload the photos to a service such as FamilyVault.com, which allows you to build and manage your family’s photos, family tree and research, all in one place, with unlimited storage guaranteed for up to a century.
- Family tree. One gentleman recalled tracing his family tree back to the 18thcentury as a teen. Then he went off to war. In the chaos of those times, this precious research he laboriously recorded by hand was lost. Today, of course, tracing a senior’s family tree is much easier, thanks to sites such as Ancestry.com. Ask your senior relative to fill in crucial information like maiden names and distant relations with whom the family may have lost touch.
- Recipes. What was in those delectable cinnamon cookies grandma used to make? Or the secret recipe to Aunt Cici’s pumpkin pie everyone clamors for at Thanksgiving? You’ll never know unless you ask the source. Foods are a mouthful of memories, say researchers, rich with the ingredients of shared history. Document your family traditions so a senior’s great-grandchild can bake the same recipe for her own family someday. You might even take these signature dishes and create a family cookbook!
- Heirloom stories. You may think that old end table is just a piece of furniture, until you learn its history: it belonged to your great-grandmother, who brought it over from the old country because it was a gift from her mother when she got married — and now it’s a valuable antique. If you have items from yesteryear, look into their provenance before you give them to Goodwill. You might possess a beloved portal to the past.
- Quilt. If you and other family members enjoy quilting, you might take a page from the touching film, How to Make An American Quilt, in which a quilting group comprised of wise elders is crafting a quilt for a young relative’s impending marriage. Or, you might copy some of the photos you’ve digitally saved onto cloth remnants donated by various family members, and commission a professionally made quilt. Of course, you won’t use this quilt as a blanket: it will make a lovely wall hanging, a daily reminder of your loved one’s life and memories.
- Family journal. Some people journal their thoughts and dreams; others don’t like to write. But since this is a special memory project concerning the relative you all have in common, they may wish to contribute. Reach out to as many relations as possible, asking them to write about their most significant moments or memories with your loved one. Have these pages bound into a book, and make copies for all who contributed.
- Email. One couple had the ingenious idea to email their newborn daughter weekly, so that when she’s old enough, she’ll have a digital record of who her parents were in the earliest years of her life, before she had accessible memory.
The idea works as well at the other end of the life spectrum. If your loved one is digitally adept, ask close family members to email you their best memories of him or her, and save them all to a flash drive and/or the cloud. Then your loved one can enjoy the emails at leisure, and the rest of the family will have these memories as a keepsake.
Making New Memories Every Day
At The Kensington Sierra Madre, our team of dedicated professionals is committed to helping your loved one make joy-filled memories daily.
Our residence is located in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley, just across the street from Memorial Park. Shopping and cafés are just a short walk.
We find or create ways to help residents feel comfortable, secure, happy, and dignified. We build care into the rapport we cultivate with residents. To create the best conditions for this “relationship-based” focus, we assign a primary care manager to each resident.
We invite you to call or stop by soon, and see why The Kensington is not just about premium memory care, but also about caring for the memories your loved one has lived.