Senior Living Advice: Distant Memories Play A Vital Role For Seniors And You
By Beth Dow, Solutions By Beth
I went fishing the other day and caught two fish! I haven’t been fishing in years.
And while catching fish was very unexpected, something even better happened unexpectedly. I caught a distant memory.
My mind went straight back to my granddaddy. He is the one that taught me how to fish. Granddaddy always referred to it as “going to feed some fish.” It had been years since I had thought about that, but standing beside the lake, casting my reel, memories of my granddaddy and me fishing came flooding back.
He wouldn’t bait my hook for me. He made me do it. He wouldn’t take the fish off the hook, either. He showed me how to do it all. It was all part of fishing. No extra treatment for being a girl.
Now those two skills made me very popular in biology class when it was time to dissect a frog. While most of the girls and some of the boys thought it was all too gross, I dove right in.
Much of what my granddaddy taught me has made me better prepared to be the adult I am today.
For many of our elders, remembering what they had for breakfast or what they did yesterday, leaves them blank. But if you can encourage those distance memories from 50 to 60 years ago – those memories and getting to revisit them – can bring a sense of comfort and joy. Your loved one may not be physically able to fish, but if he or she used to fish in their early years, you can help bring that memory back.
Take them outside. The side of a lake would be nice but not necessary. Just the warmth of the sun and a reel in their hand is enough to spark a memory. Let them cast the line, and reel it back in. Even if they are not able to speak, their expression will tell you if they have pulled up a memory.
If they can communicate, ask them where they fished, who taught them to fish, and who fished with them. Even if you have heard the story 100 times, act as though it is the first time you have heard it. Show them that for this moment in time, they have your full focus.
Maybe your loved one was a good cook or just liked to cook. Bake some chocolate chip cookies. The aroma itself can bring up an old memory. Then ask your loved one if they would like to help you make some. Place a bowl in their lap with a spoon and let them stir. As they stir, talk to them about cooking.
Ask who taught them to cook, or ask about their favorite dish to cook.
If they were known for their bad cooking or if you know they had a hard time learning to cook, burn some bread in the toaster. The smell of burnt toast can bring back memories of laughter over burnt meals.
Your loved ones have memories in there. Help to get them out. Not only will you bring back their memories, you may just make a connection with them, and thus create some new memories of your own.