The Importance of Sharing Memories
Next time you see an older loved one, ask them to take you for a trip down memory lane.
Memories are, in many ways, a universal language. They are a way to leave behind the worries or health concerns of the present for a momentary excursion into the bright, happy past. Recalling, cherishing, and sharing favorite memories is good for everyone, but it is especially beneficial for seniors.
As we get older, the mood, mental health, and memory boosts that come with recalling great moments from our lives only become more valuable. When a senior tells a story about a beloved memory, it is a way for them to connect back to who they are and to the things that forged their identity. If an older adult is struggling with dementia or other memory challenges, they may have difficulty recalling more recent events but have clear memories of the long-ago past. Encouraging them to share those memories is a way to help them feel happier and healthier in mind, body, and spirit.
Best of all, it’s easy to encourage the seniors in our lives to share their memories. Ask your parents about significant moments in their lives, like their wedding day or their honeymoon or the day you were born. Ask to hear stories about a neighbor’s youth and upbringing. When visiting your grandparents, pick out a photo on the shelf or a memento from the closet and ask to hear the story behind it. The options for drawing forth those memories and igniting conversations about them are nearly endless.
From there, your job is simple: listen! Having an active listener is validating in any situation, but especially when someone is telling the personal stories of their own life. Listening closely, asking questions, and staying engaged is the best way to amplify the many mental health benefits of older adults sharing their stories.