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Friday, June 10, 2011

Rethinking Reminiscence: we all lose when memories are lost or forgotten

As we work with health care organizations, retirement living, hospitals, adult day centers, senior centers, home care agencies, and libraries, it has become abundantly clear why it is, indeed, the right time to be capturing life stories more.

1) Do it for people's health: Reminiscence has been found to lower depression, lower physical pain, and increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Even when life hasn't been perfect (no one's life is), there is a chance to recall, reflect, and, hopefully, see the events with a different perspective.

2) Do it to capture memories: With the number of new Alzheimer's cases growing to over 450,000 a year, this is both an urgent and important exercise. By creating a biography, an individual has a better chance of being deeply known by family members and other caregivers now and in the future.

3) Do it for children and grandchildren. Most people don't know much about their great-grandparents. Maybe genealogy records but not much else. There is no one else like YOU. You have the time and the opportunity to create a lasting record for the next generation. Share the story of who you are and who our parents and grandparents were too. Tell your veterans story, your love story, your crazy vacation story. You've witness so many things in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Answer biography questions so your family can walk in your shoes and really know you.

4) Do it for YOU. When you look back, the future can sometimes come into clearer view too.  You'll remember what led you into a particular career, what the moment was like when you met your future spouse, how you got interested in a particular hobby. Sometimes things long forgotten come back to the surface and they are re-ignited in your life.  Clarity may come from reflection on who you are and where you've come from through the years.

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