History… We’ve all lived through it and experienced it from unique perspectives. Memories take the form of shared stories, often oral histories passed along to friends and family. It’s important to not only reminisce together in the present but to also preserve these beautiful life stories for future generations.
Reviewing one’s life also has many tangible benefits to Tuscaloosa seniors, according to the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. Sharing can increase acceptance and satisfaction with one’s life, social engage people who have dementia, improve cognitive function, promote social interaction to end feelings of isolation, remember life’s joys and challenges, and provide a bigger picture of an individual’s life and place in the world.
Why wait until a person is close to death or facing the onset of Alzheimer’s to record his or her life stories? The process can be done at any age, although some put it off until they feel a sense of urgency. CSA notes that many in Hospice situations feel comforted by the idea of creating a document that will outlast them.
So many great stories can be unleashed by simply asking thought-provoking questions such as, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” or “What were your most memorable experiences from high school?”
Scrapbook photos or old videos can often jog our memories, leading to stories deserving an ear.
Here in Tuscaloosa, the memories of being at specific Crimson Tide football games or recalling stories about visiting the Capstone are part of who we are. Any hobby, interest or activity helps define our lives. While most of us will never have a museum named after us or lives as colorful or accomplished as Bear Bryant’s, our ordinary lives are just as deserving to be remembered.
Our life histories enrich our collective history, putting a layer of context on things like remembering how it felt to watch a man walk on the moon or go off to defend the country against tyranny. We need not suffer grave wounds or survive dramatic episodes to have worthwhile personal stories. Life, by its nature, pits us all against the elements and forces us to realize a quiet heroism.
For those who want to write their own life story, the website Lifebio provides a template and online questions. An organization called StoryCorps also has a memory loss initiative that encourages people with various forms of memory loss to share their stories with loved ones and future generations. Whether using one of these resources or simply sitting down with a family member willing to record some video on a smartphone to be preserved, the important thing is to preserve the past so it can become a part of the future.