Most of us have heard our senior loved one telling stories about certain things, usually funny, that happened to them in their life. For instance, my kids have heard frequently from their mom about potatoes for dinner every night or how their dad swung from the back porch from a rope growing up.
However, what we often don’t hear about from our senior loved ones are what towns/houses/cities they lived in, what jobs they had throughout their life, not just the job from which they retired, what pets they had when they were growing up, their family tree, what caused their parents/grandparents death or many other rich details of their life that make them who they are.
How many of us family caregivers know that dad started out selling newspapers while driving a family car that was falling apart or that mom kept a rabbit in her room? Did our parents ever travel and where did they go? What are the names of our grandparents, great-grandparents, and their siblings? Did anyone come through Ellis Island? What is their medical history or blood type?
How will our children and grandchildren know these details?
One way you can capture these precious family memories is beginning now to create a family journal. Take some time daily, weekly, or monthly with your senior loved one, asking them specific questions and allowing them to reminisce. Record these thoughts, information and your impressions in a journal that can be shared with other members of the family. Others in the family can add any knowledge they have about the family in the journal too. Family documents and photos can be added in a scrapbook fashion to enhance the memories.
Tips for Getting Started
Take your time, this is a journey of love.
Get a pen, paper and a notebook of your choosing.
Organize it as you wish separating it into various sections such as family tree, my father/mother, medical history, photos, documents, fun facts, etc. Whatever fits your family’s needs.
At the top of each piece of paper that will become a page in the journal write a question to be answered and expanded upon such as:
Where were you born? Where were your parents born? (country, city, hospital, home)
What was your first job? What was your favorite job and why?What was your fondest memory growing up?Where did you travel as a kid? Adult? Where was your favorite place to visit? Where was the farthest place you went?What is your family health history-mom, dad, great-grandparents?Where are deceased family member buried?What pets did you have growing up?Where did you meet mom/dad? Where were you married? Who was in the ceremony?
Review family photos, include them in the journal with thoughts about each one and include who the people are and details about the photos.
Collect family documents like marriage licenses, military records, etc. and include in your keepsake.
Resources You May Like to Guide Your Journaling
- To Our Children’s Children Journal of Family Memories
- The Story of a Lifetime: A Keepsake of Personal Memoirs
- Memories for My Grandchild
This journal will offer you, your family and your senior loved one a way to connect, record family memories that can be shared with generations to come and give a new respect for the lives they lived. Some of their answers may surprise you!
We would love to hear about your experiences with journaling family memories; please share with all of us.