For the modern family, holidays are often the only occasions when multiple generations come together to spend significant time with each other. And even if we don’t recognize it, the grounding we feel in our emotional lives probably grew, in part, out of observing and preserving traditions with our families. Whether it’s digging into a special dish that Grandma always made or listening to Uncle Harry’s bad jokes again, there’s something about experiencing these rituals together each year that help connect family members to each other for life. The annual Thanksgiving celebration is an excellent opportunity for aging loved ones to tell family stories, explain their traditions and teach the old ways to a new generation. Plus, for senior adults, remembering can be a life-affirming experience.
When aging adults suffer memory loss, their ability to recall what happened recently becomes harder and harder. Simply remembering what they had for breakfast can be a struggle and that can confuse and upset them. On the other hand, their memories of what happened long ago tend to remain vivid and detailed. Being able to share their stories socially, with receptive young and old listeners, can be calming and deeply satisfying, not to mention fun for family members to hear!
When visiting with your older relatives – either in a senior community like Artman, or at a loved one’s home during the holidays – encourage them to talk about their childhood and ask about the way things used to be. Even if you’ve heard the story more than once, give your loved one your full attention. Ask questions to elicit new information and insights to strengthen emotional connections and understanding between the generations:
- What did common items cost when they were kids?
- What were their favorite activities, movies, TV shows and books growing up?
- What were they doing and how did they feel when historic events took place like a war, the Kennedy Assassination or when an astronaut walked on the moon?
Research shows remembering the past and retelling the stories forms new pathways in the brain and these family discussions may resemble a more formal type of eldercare service called reminiscence therapy. This popular intervention in the treatment of dementia-related disease encourages seniors to exchange memories through conversations and activities that spur social interaction and communication. The therapy has been shown to have multiple benefits for both residents in assisted living communities and elderly adults living at home with caregivers.
This holiday season, why not make time for some tales of yesteryear? Encourage senior loved ones to share their wisdom, traditions and stories. It could make your holidays more meaningful and build warm and cherished memories that last a lifetime.
Artman is a senior community located in Ambler, PA, and service of Liberty Lutheran, with a rich tradition of compassion, offering Personal Care, Short-term Rehabilitation, Skilled Nursing and Hospice Care. For nearly 100 years, Artman has recognized and supported the unique physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of older adults. Our services and our commitment to the highest quality of care give family members and physicians confidence in complete care for each of our residents. Artman is committed to making a positive difference in your life and the lives of those you love through our full-time, full-service compassion and care. Our home is your home.
For more information visit the Artman website or call: P: 215-643-6335 ext 110