Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not Telling Your Life Story- What is Lost?

We've discussed how important telling your life story is, and three things that are gained when you enjoy them with your family. But what is lost when you don't share them? What happens if your stories sit bottled up inside of you, never allowed to be shared?

Here are three important things that evaporate when family stories are not shared.

1. Relationships
Do you really know your parents and grandparents? A woman I know named Donna didn't even know her mother's first name until she interviewed her. She also felt a new  connection to her grandfather-someone she had never known- as her mother recounted stories of him.

In this technological age that we live in, genuine family communication is hard to come by. Movies, TV, cellphones, and radio have made family time hard to come by. I know several parents who hardly see their teenagers, let alone have serious discussions with them. It seems that the younger generation is more likely to want to be on their phones, texting people they see every day, rather than talking to the older generations.

We have to be intentional in setting aside time to talk with other family members, via phone or in person, to make sure these relationships aren't lost. Whether you're a parent or grandparent, uncle or aunt, take the time to tell other family members, particularly the younger generation, who you are, what your family stands for, and how much you care about them.

2. Storytelling Opportunities
When your stories aren't shared, that material is lost forever. It's great to read your kids bedtime stories, but think about closing the Dr. Seuss book and telling one of your own! YOU have an amazing life story to tell. Only YOU can share that unique experience. More often than not, your kids will enjoy your own stories more. It fascinates them that this was your own experience, and they'll feel even closer to you. Your own stories are great bedtime material. Reminisces are everything you need.

3. Values and Beliefs
Stories communicate life experiences and tell the next generation right from wrong. In a world that seems to have lost important morals, this is more important than ever. Kids need to learn from you; not the media. Family stories are a great way to accomplish this; without them, kids miss out on an important foundation.

As M. Scott Peck pointed out, "Life is difficult." Stories can convey the need for courage when trials and difficulties are encountered. Through stories of war, financial hardships, losses of one kind or another and the larger societal battles over civil and women's rights, our children can see that family members faced and overcame challenges—even death.

Real life stories, whether they are your own or your parents, can have a huge impact on children and grandchildren. Close the generational gap. It's time to start telling your life story.

Sign up today at www.lifebio.com and get started on writing your life story without delay. Write your own autobiography, or capture a parent's or grandparent's.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why Should You Tell Your Life Story?

Many people wonder why they should tell their life story. Just as many people don't share it at all, and make up excuses as to why they don't. "No one cares about my life story." "They think it's boring." "My children know enough about me already." The truth is, sharing your life story is very important to you and your family.

Sharing stories encourages a closer, more meaningful relationship with your children and grandchildren. Family stories are important because you may be able to tell about people, times and places that no one else in your family knows about. I remember looking at pictures with my grandmother on an old slide projector, marveling at all the things she'd done and places she saw. Her life wasn't boring; it was fascinating! I felt closer than ever to my family as I learned about their lives growing up.

Sharing life stories also helps the younger generations-inspiring, teaching, and modeling strength and courage for them. What better way to model strength and courage for your children than telling them about the time you hiked up a mountain with your father, got lost, and then figured out how to get back to civilization in the dead of night?

Although these are three good reasons why you should tell your life story, you should also consider what is lost when you don't tell it. Check the blog in the next couple of days for important things that are lost when family stories aren't shared.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Intergenerational Programs for Teenagers

Teens are always looking for new and exciting community service projects. Why not have them connect with the older generation by interviewing people at nursing homes, senior centers, or other places? They can learn communication skills while becoming closer to a generation that might not understand them as well as they'd like.

Getting started: It's great to have a group of kids who will do this together and stick it out to the end. Some of them may not feel comfortable going alone, so a group of 5-8 teens would be wonderful. This may be a new experience for them, so a quick training on what they will encounter would be beneficial. Tell them things like: 1) Don't mumble when you ask a question; 2) Listen carefully. They know when you aren't listening; 3) Don't worry about staying on track too much. A question you ask may take them off on a tangent that is very important to them.

Conducting the Interviews: Bring tools that can easily start conversations and allow you to complete a successful short-term project. For a starter project, Story Cards and Storyboards are great tools to make relationship building easier. When the teenagers don't have to worry about WHAT to ask, they can worry about HOW they ask it. They can then focus on listening to the answer and recording it. If the answer isn't recorded, it is lost or forgotten. Sometimes, asking 3-4 questions per visit is best.

Completing the Interviews: Students can make a bulletin board of resident's answers to a particular question if it's in a nursing home setting, or they could make a board of a single person's life. They could decorate it together, getting to know each other more as they do. If it is a long term project, teens could type in answers at Lifebio.com, or write answers in a Life Story Journal.

The Effects: Throughout this experience, teens will learn more about the older generation and develop relationships with them. At the same time, the older adults will be able to reminisce and become close with the younger generations. It is a win-win situation, and an enriching experience for all involved. It will transform lives, and give everyone more understanding and love. If we can help, call us at 1-866-543-3246 or e-mail us at info@lifebio.com

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creating a Memory Book for Alzheimer's Patients

Memory loss can be a challenge for you and your loved ones. Making a memory book can greatly benefit the person with memory loss, as well as their caregiver. Many Alzheimer's Association chapters recommend doing this.

Making a memory book is a good idea, but how do you go about getting those memories down on paper? Here are some tips to get you started writing life stories.

1. Realize the process is as important as the product. The process of capturing the memories, assembling pictures, and discussion is as important as any finished product. Creating a memory book shouldn't be a one time thing, but rather an on going process, where the person is asked questions over a period of time. This helps stimulate their memory and continually builds a strong relationship with one or more caregivers. Over time, you will have not only have a beautiful memory book, but happier people.

2. Realize that this is not a quiz. Looking through old family photo albums is a great way to help bring back memories, but remember that this is NOT a quiz. It isn't a time to see if the person remembers your Uncle Fred or not. Be patient, and keep questions more specific for your loved one. Don't start each question with "Do you remember...?" The answer will very likely be no. Instead, ask specific yes or no questions. Instead of saying, "Do you remember your wedding day?" ask something like "Was your wedding hot?" or "What did your wedding dress look like?"

3. Realize that the more you know, the more you love. People with memory loss are sometimes difficult to care for, but a memory book helps the caregiver see this person with new eyes. They have led a rich and interesting life with people, times, and places to share. It's important to see them as a child, a youth, a worker, a parent, and a grandparent. There is always more caring and empathy when the whole person is understood.

4. Realize that your memory book should be shared. Make sure that your completed memory book is an on-going source of discussion for the loved one, visitors and caregivers. Pictures should be found to complement the memories, and it should be displayed. These rich, amazing memories don't help anyone if they're hidden away in a book or drawer somewhere.

You can purchase a memory book here to get you started on learning these wonderful memories and creating memories of your own.