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Encouraging The Elderly
To Journa
l & Record Their Memories

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As a caregiver, you can encourage your loved one to express themselves through writing and drawing. Both writing and drawing increases their sense of purpose. Through another form of writing, which can be storytelling, you can support your loved one to write about their lives so that children and grandchildren will learn more about who they were through their recording their stories, memories and thoughts. This is a wonderful way to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation as well.

If it is difficult for your loved one to write or draw, you might record their stories on tape or even video them to create a lasting memory that will be of great benefit for themselves as well as those who will be able to refer to their writings, tapes or videos.

Writing is also a way for the elderly to express difficult emotions and the changes they are going through with their illness as well as end-of-life issues they are facing. Writing is also cathartic. It can give them more self-esteem, a sense of purpose and meaning in their final days. It brings an inner peace, relieves depression and anxiety and relaxes the body.

Many times you can encourage them and guide them through suggestions as to what they might include in their writings. Remember at all times not to judge or criticize for they are expressing themselves and either writing or speaking from their own perspective.

Some questions you may use to spark their memories are:

  • What were your parents like?
  • What was growing up for you like as a child?
  • What are your memories of the war?
  • What is the most astounding news event in your life?
  • What was it like growing up where you lived?
  • Did you have pets? What were they like?
  • What are some of your most joyful, memorable experiences in life?
  • What were some of the most difficult experiences like in your life?
  • Can you remember how you and mom (or dad) first met?
  • Who would you like to communicate most with about what you are feeling and what would you like to say to them?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • How do you think others will remember you?
  • What would your personal obituary be like?
  • What are your spiritual or beliefs like?
  • Is forgiveness important to you? If so, how will you seek forgiveness and for whom?
  • What has and continues to give your life meaningfulness and purpose?
  • What goals do you still desire to achieve?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings on death and dying? Your fears?
  • What concerns do you have about your future healthcare and life?
  • How would you like your final time on this plane to be like?

You can encourage them to write or speak on just about anything: Friends, marriage, love, mistakes they have made and learned from, their wisdom, getting older and much more. Be creative and use your imagination, to spark theirs. Use old photographs to speak to them.

This can be a remarkable healing experience not only for them, but those who will benefit from reading or listening to their responses.

© Copyright 1999-2000 by Gail R. Mitchell

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Copyright Gail R. Mitchell
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