Remembering when we were young and everything was new is fun for all of us, but especially for our older loved ones. Even those with mild to moderate dementia will love to talk about the “good old days.” When you start a conversation about your loved one’s past — hang on to your hat! You’re going to have a fun and wonderful experience.
We live in a world that has changed so drastically in our lifetime and perhaps even more in the lifetimes of our seniors. Sometimes I look around at our world with my 60 years of living and have trouble recognizing the times that we live in. For my parents, they often say, “there’s no way to understand this age.”
Yesterday, When I Was Young
What my parents enjoy doing is talking about when they were young. Their first date, poodle skirts, square dancing, running around with 10 of their friends squished into a car — those are the things that make them laugh and bring them joy. Sometimes I’m so focused on what I’m doing and what the kids are doing I fail to see what conversations my parents need to have. I’ve fallen into the new age of “it’s all about me.”
I’ve learned the lesson that time is the most treasured commodity, especially when it comes to my parents and the time I have to spend with them. I do my best during our visits to ask them about days long ago when they were strong and the world was a safe place. It always pays off. I learn so much more about them as “whole people” and not just who they are in their 80s.
Stories of the Past
I’ve held classes at local assisted-living communities on reminiscing and found some really good materials that make the experience fun. The Good Old Days Magazine is a great way to reminisce by yourself or with an older loved one. It’s has lots of stories about the 1940s through the 1960s. You can read a number of these stories on their website.
The stories are written by seniors about their own lives growing up when things were a lot simpler. I’ve read a number of these stories to the elders in my reminiscing group who love them. What’s even better is they bring to their minds similar stories of their own they can’t wait to share. Reminisce.com is another good publication that you and your older loved one will enjoy. With the holidays coming up, both these magazines are the perfect gift.
When we think about reading to someone, we’re usually thinking about children, but elders come from an age when reading aloud was done by people of all ages. This is the perfect activity while someone is convalescing. Pick a book they know and love but haven’t read in a long time. Books like Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Grapes of Wrath, or even Moby-Dick are good reads for elders. Perhaps you know of your loved one’s favorite books. Pick one of those and have a good time reading together. I found a great website of the best books ever written at http://thegreatestbooks.org/.
Music is another way to start the memories flooding back to you. If you’re about my age, I’m sure you remember The Lion Sleeps Tonight or You’ve Got a Friend. Somehow songs like that make me remember the day when running around with friends was the ultimate goal of my life!
Reminiscing is a way to give joy to your older loved ones and to bring a greater understanding to yourself about who they were when they were young. No matter how far we may have come in life — we’re still a product of our youth. Sharing those memories will leave you with sweet memories you’ll cherish always.