Memories are part of our being. They allow us to momentarily recapture our youth, milestone events, surprises large and small and so much more. If “Time Takes All But Memories” (August post) from elders who’ve lost spouses, good health, friends, family etc., can we supply happy memories for them–as well as for aging parents and the older people we care about?
1. Momentarily recapturing youth: What immediately comes to mind is celebrating a lady’s 100th birthday with lunch at a bar. (She died at 104.) I’m quite certain she never forgot that lunch, nor have I.
What made it memorable? Doing something no longer normal for her, that was once an enjoyable, normal part of her life. An added surprise and obvious memory-maker: The fact that two strangers–young guys–sent drinks to our table in honor of her birthday, thrilled her. (I couldn’t have staged that; if I could have, believe me I would have.) Can telling the wait staff how old your guest is produce something extra special?
2. Doing something that’s “today” could be a special event that comes to town; an outing to something contemporary that you go to together; something that elders know about, but may not have experienced, or an ordinary occurrence that wasn’t ordinary in their day.
That said, I remember Sr. Advisor R phoning to tell us (we’re far-away-living adult children) that some younger friends (in their 40’s and 50’s; R was in her 80’s), took her to a gay bar one night. R has always had a worldly view of life, which includes staying up to date on what’s going on.
3. Family togetherness: may produce the best memories for aging parents. Don’t we, in fact, remember special times with family?
It could be a holiday or a gathering when all children and grandchildren are together. Interestingly we can amass all family members from near and far for the funeral, so why not do it while aging parents/grandparents are able to enjoy it and the memories it leaves?
4. Reunions and visitations from meaningful people in elders’ lives: Can we provide the occasion for childhood friends, buddies from military service, and old friends to be reconnect, share past memories and possibly create new ones?
5. A collage of photos: Today we still have photos of special times (often stored in boxes). Tomorrow most photos will no doubt be stored in our devices’ memories.
Can’t those who do crafts, make a collage of photos and put them in a picture frame as large as an older person’s empty wall permits? It captures memories that can be relived each time the collage is viewed.
With hopes that the above contributes towards our goal of helping parents age well until the end.
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.