Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories

Robin Bush, ISR Communications

Documenting memories is a beautiful way to engage older adults in conversation and capture their stories for future generations. 

Videotaping is best because it records expressions along with words. If that’s uncomfortable, then just record audio. If it is hard to know where to start, try asking open-ended questions, looking through old photo albums and talking about the place, the time, and the people in the photographs, or even playing music from years past (it often stimulates memories).

Try asking what inspired them, what shaped who they are, or what lessons they want to share with future generations. Sometimes, asking about family traditions or what they did on holidays will bring back treasured memories. Ask them easy questions interspersed with harder ones to help them from becoming overwhelmed. Try having different people ask the questions—you’ll often get very different responses if their offspring asks vs. when a grandchild asks. 

If you live alone and want to record yourself telling stories, try doing one recording each week. Make it a ritual like a fireside chat on Friday night.

Keep recordings to an hour or less so it’s not overwhelming. Keep out distracting background sounds. Ensure the lighting is gentle to avoid squinting and the setting and chair are comfortable.

Try to organize recording sessions. Start with early memories and progress to the most current, or try the opposite. Or, if that’s too hard, pick random pages from photo albums and enjoy whatever stories arise.

Before too long, you’ll have recorded a priceless family heirloom. Don’t wait. This is a gift that honors the wisdom gained in a lifetime.