Now’s The Time
Now’s the time to get started!
It starts with you. You are visiting our website for a reason. You probably heard about us at an event or from a friend and are curious to learn more. It’s also possible that you’re like me and sees a need to begin capturing stories from our loved ones. Or you may work with an organization with the same need to share their story before too much time passes. That time has come when we’re looking back at our lives that have zipped by so quickly. We wished we had written down a few more of the stories from our parents, grandparents, and even our old friends. It took me fifty years to begin wanting to know more about where I came from and what life was really like when I was born and before. That’s about the same time I became a caregiver for my parents and met so many people along the way whose stories weren’t being saved.
I remain committed to reaching out to seniors for the rest of my days and encouraging them to share a little history for future generations. I invite you to do the same and be honored to work with you.
Families – Those of us with (or without) children should do all we can to give the gift of history to future generations. Document what life was like when you were a child or when your parents and grandparents were children. Share the stories from when your group or organization was formed. Share the important moments from your history. Share what inspired your grandparents to work so hard. Share the major historic innovations that came about over time. If you have begun, start on that family tree. Share those stories about family recipes passed down from previous generations. You’ll be surprised how a project like this helps families. Create a storybook together and attach it to the family tree or group archives. Save a copy for everyone. If you’re so inclined, publish your book. You’ll be surprised how many people can relate to your stories and be encouraged to do the same. One Legacy has experience with several types of publications.
Independent living senior communities – Now is the time to write things down or record them. Share about where you were born and what life was like back then and there. Make this process unique and bring small groups together for a significant social event. It’s an excellent way to get to know your neighbors and, at the same time, trigger those memories that are starting to fade. I promise these social events can be fun and inspirational. You can even make it a public event if you’d like.
Assisted Living – Legacy Sharing is an excellent fit for these communities. It brings people together for social events and, as mentioned earlier, leads to a “community within the community” by preparing for the events together and learning a little bit about each person’s history. If you choose, you can create your own library of coffee table books of stories you collect over the years. You’ll be glad you started that practice, and residents (and families) will appreciate it.
Skilled Nursing communities – These facilities can be the most challenging for scheduling group activities, due to each resident’s varying levels of health and the challenge for activity staff to gather residents for story-sharing sessions. But, as you know, that doesn’t prohibit your guests from sharing great stories individually.
One of my favorite communities to visit has been Hitz Memorial Home in Alhambra, IL. Great staff and residents. I had the opportunity to interview several individual residents. Each had great stories and was happy to share. In 2019 I was introduced to a resident named Gertrude “Gert” Hern. I believe she was 85 years old at the time. Before the introduction, staff pulled me aside and warned, “Gert can get a little snappy and mean at times, and she doesn’t like men!” I didn’t even know what that meant but went ahead with the interview. Gert happened to be a professional baseball player when she was a young woman back in the early 1940s. She talked baseball as if she was still playing the game. The look in her eyes took me back with her as she was even posing with her baseball stance. Catcher was her position. Forty-five minutes later we were wrapping up one of the best story sessions I’ve ever experienced. She was delightful. I happened to have a video person with me that day, and we recorded a special interview with this remarkable woman. You check out Gert’s story and video on our website.
Memory Care communities – I’ve been asked many times about whether our program would fit with memory care. My answer is an emphatic yes. It takes a little more patience and preparation time, but you will be surprised how well guests respond. And you’ll be amazed at how much respect and patience, that participants will show toward each other.
At one of the 8-week programs, we had an 85-year-old gentleman with advanced dementia attend. At times he struggled, but the group encouraged him through it. He was having a blast. But four or five weeks into the program, he stopped attending. We weren’t sure why. At the final session for the group, we were delighted to see the man attend one more time. He had throat surgery and now had a tracheostomy (trach) tube installed in his throat. It was too soon for him to speak at all. But he brought a two or three-page letter with him and asked one of us to read the letter aloud for him. He had written a lengthy story on paper to describe one of his favorite vacations (to Europe) with his young son many years ago. He felt it was important to share with the group. Quite a few tears of happiness appeared around the table.
That was just one of many examples of how important the sharing of personal memories can be, not only for the author but also for everyone else in the room.
Hospice Care – I have multiple experiences in my family with hospice care. The most recent was my Aunt Stephanie, in Beulah MO. After a long battle with cancer she became bedridden at home. Stephanie’s son Andrew kept a deck of our Story Starter Cards at her bedside and would spend hours going through the entire deck of questions, repeatedly. Answering the questions for her son put a smile on her face. My experience has been there has never been a more appropriate (important) time to share stories is, when possible, at bedside during hospice care. Hospice social workers are the biggest user of the Story Starter cards. It’s easy to keep a deck of cards in a pocket or purse. Families love them.
We can help you.
As I mentioned earlier, our program is flexible and customizable and can easily be done without our help, with a dedicated approach and team. If you need us, I would be happy to talk to you to discuss ways we can support you. I can share various techniques we use. For more details about each program and the various coaching options we offer, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, Godspeed to you and your passion to treasure those memories while we can!
“Each day has purpose. Every life has meaning.”