People like hearing good stories, especially if they’re about someone they know and love. Helping your mom record her life experiences is a great way to ensure her memories are passed down to the next generation. Telling stories will also improve her cognitive function.
How Writing Help Seniors
Memory recall: Regularly flexing cognitive muscles slows the progression of cognitive decline and memory loss. Writing down his life story provides your dad with the opportunity to practice remembering treasured memories. The more he practices, the better he’ll become at bringing more obscure stories to mind. He may even begin to recall events, people and places he hasn’t talked about for years.
Emotions and trauma: Writing about past experiences allows people to address previously painful memories. It creates an opportunity for your loved one to vent their anger, sadness, frustration and anxiety associated with a particular event and can help them reach an emotional resolution.
Speech and language: Expressing thoughts through writing engages the part of the brain responsible for speech and language. Developing and building vocabulary is a lifelong skill that requires constant practice. When your mom tells a story, she uses specific language to convey the facts and atmosphere associated with her memories.
Stress relief: Journaling is a good therapeutic practice, especially for seniors who’ve had a lifetime of experiences. Writing about her day allows your mom to define her emotional response to a situation and may help her see another person’s perspective.
Daily structure: Your dad will develop self-discipline when he sits down to write each day. Setting aside time to talk or write about memories establishes a routine that will help his brain sustain cognitive function.
Getting Your Mom or Dad Started
Here are some tips for helping your loved one share their stories:
- Ask open-ended questions to avoid a sense interrogation.
- Offer to transcribe or record your dad’s stories for him if he’s struggling to write.
- Use photos, mementos, music, scents and other aids to help your mom recall specific memories.
- Take your dad to a location associated with some of his stories to help him remember details.
- Don’t emphasize chronology because one memory can easily trigger another. Allow your mom to tell stories in any order that she wishes.
- Encourage your dad to provide as many details as he feels comfortable sharing.
- Enjoy yourself. Telling stories should be fun and gives you a chance to spend quality time with your senior.