Shoeboxes filled with black and white photographs, photo albums stacked in a dusty box in the corner of an attic, a pile of favorite family holiday recipes. Every family has these mementos lying about, but making every effort to cherish those memories can be a memory-making experience itself.
There are many creative ways to capture and chronicle one’s life. And with the bounty of scrapbooking supplies and technological ways to record and preserve personal accounts and pictures, the possibilities are endless.
Caring.com, a website which offers information and support for caregivers of aging parents, spouses and loved ones, has compiled a list of eight easy methods to keep the memories of your loved one alive for generations to come.
1. Create an audio or video recording of your parent reminiscing. Pick a time of day when your parent is especially energetic and willing to participate. Let his/her recollections flow without interruptions and avoid questions with “yes” or “no” answers.
2. Analyze and digitize old images. Using a digital scanner, those loose photographs can gain renewed life as they are converted to JPEG or TIFF formats, allowing them to be saved onto CDs, DVDs, or an external hard drive. Ask your local photo lab for assistance.
3. Pore over photo albums, old and new. Unearth those stacks of albums and enjoy an afternoon of reminiscing. Use Post-It notes to jot down your parent’s recollections and adhere them to each appropriate page.
4. Purchase a fill-in-the-blank memory book. Your local bookstore sells these books, which may ask poignant questions that your parent can answer when prompted. One of the best on the market for mothers is: “A Mother’s Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own Words.” For fathers, the title is “A Father’s Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own Words.”
5. Fill in Your Family Tree. How is Aunt Shelia related to Cousin Harold? Visually connecting your relatives to one another is a wonderful way to reminisce and explain how everyone knows one another.
6. Travel to your parent’s hometown. Taking a walk down memory lane is an experience that comes to life when traveling down the streets, visiting the schools and sights that have shaped your parent’s life. It is also a perfect time to take fresh photographs to incorporate into an old or new photo album.
7. Learn the stories of things. A silver frame, a wooden bench, a collection of crystal glassware. Discover why some of the objects that have become part of your parent’s home hold such sentimental value.
8. Get “famous” family recipes down on paper. Perhaps no one makes latkes like your mother and her recipe is one you hope to pass on to your great-grandchildren. Now is the time to gather those secret formulas for the traditional foods you’ve come to enjoy as a family.
Among the many volunteer-led activities hosted at Wilf Campus are scrapbooking, storytelling and other memory preservation activities for residents and their families. To join us, or present a class, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And we invite you to share your memory preservation project with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WilfCampus .