April 9, 2019

Shot of younger woman's hands holding hands of elderly woman
Holding older loved one’s hands

Many older adults have fascinating stories to tell about their lives, but they don’t always have an outlet to share them. The next time you visit your loved one, consider setting aside some time to interview them about their lives and memories. Here are some wonderful ways to capture and preserve your loved one’s stories for future generations.

Keep a journal

One of the easiest ways to preserve your family’s history is by simply writing it down. Ask questions to encourage your loved one to share more about their life. What was their favorite childhood memory? Who was their first love? What are some valuable lessons they learned in their life? StoryCorps has a great list of interview questions which can also serve as writing prompts. 

If they are willing and able, your loved one can also write or type out their memories themselves. In some senior living communities, nonfiction writing classes are offered to help residents put their real-life stories into words. Many seniors find that writing about their lives is highly enjoyable and even therapeutic.

Create a scrapbook

Looking through photographs with your loved one is another way to help them recall memories of people, events, and stories. Especially if your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s disease, seeing photographs may help to spark their memory. As you sort through your loved one’s collection of photos, try to label them, taking note of the date, event, and the people in the scene. Assembling a scrapbook together is a great way to spend time with your loved one and ensure their priceless memories are preserved for posterity.

Record an oral history

Some families preserve their history by recording interviews with loved ones. Because many smartphones come with recording apps, it’s relatively easy to record quality audio of your loved one sharing their stories and memories. Try to record multiple interviews and conversations with your loved one over time and compile them into a cohesive audio document that can be shared with other family members.

Make a video

Today’s smartphones are equipped with cameras that make it possible to record high-quality video footage anytime, anyplace. Take advantage of the technology to capture footage of your loved ones during your next visit or family get-together. Recorded interviews, candid footage, old family “home videos” and photos can all be edited together to create your own movie masterpiece.

No matter how you choose to capture and preserve family memories, the most important outcome is the opportunity to connect with your loved one on a deeper level. Be sure to ask plenty of questions and learn as much as you can about your loved one’s stories and experiences. You will never regret spending those extra moments together!

How have you preserved your loved one’s memories? Which method do you like best? Let us know on social media: @BethanyLutheranVillage.