Reminiscing and Nostalgia

A Special Program for Seniors and Caregivers

“I find out more and more every day how important it is for people to share their memories.”

Fred Rogers

As my grandfather’s 100th birthday approached in 2016, one day I set up a video camera in his living room and asked him about his life. I visited him about once per week and the interviews continued up until and after his birthday. I compiled the footage and edited it into short videos and uploaded them to YouTube.

He as a bit tentative at the beginning but as the interviews continued, I noticed that he became more engaged. It even seemed as if he was looking forward to them. When he saw me walk in the door with my tripod and camera, he would sit up in his chair, straighten his shirt, and even fix his hair. All it took was a few questions to get the ball rolling and the stories and wisdom would spill out.

I had heard some of these stories before but there were many that I hadn’t. When I shared the videos on Facebook, family members shared that many of the stories were new to them too. Even people who had never met Pap watched the videos and he gained quite a following.

In 2019, when Pap passed away at the age of 103, we were able to play the videos on a screen at the funeral home. It was a nice way to remember him and the videos sparked a lot of conversation full of tears and laughter.

When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.

African Proverb

Ever since I started recording Pap’s stories, I’ve encouraged other people to do the same with their parents and grandparents. I’ve provided them with ideas and given them lists of questions to ask. All you need is your camera or a phone.

Benefits of Reminiscing for Seniors

They live by memory rather than by hope, for what is left to them of life is but little compared to the long past. This, again, is the cause of their loquacity. They are continually talking of the past, because they enjoy remembering.

Improved moodBetter behavior
Enhanced cognitionLess strain on caregiver
More confidenceLess depression
Closer with loved onesHigher self-esteem

For seniors, reminiscing can be beneficial for mental health and preserve memory.

Besides keeping seniors entertained and passing the time, questions that force reflection and thought actually have real cognitive benefits.

Reminiscing about happy and active times of life can raise spirits and lighten moods. Just sharing about fun memories can bring seniors back to that frame of mind and even bring on feelings of gratitude. 

Recalling specific details of fond memories can also be a good exercise for the brain. Trying to recall a memory to tell a story may not feel like an intense brain exercise, but it is an important form of critical thinking. 

Schedule a Guided Reminiscing Program Today

One of the best parts of living in a senior community is the events, concerts, and fun meetups for the residents.

Consider offering a program that helps seniors to start reminiscing and also provides helpful tools for family and staff who interact with them.

Call or email today to put this entertaining and interactive program to work for your residence or organization.

Help your seniors start reminiscing now.

Dr. Marc Tinsley

Phone: 412.206.0905 x 101