Aging Well and the Health Value of Reminiscing with Loved Ones

Reminiscing with seniors is not only a great way to engage with them, it also helps reduce the dangers wrought by social isolation.

A bit of thoughtfulness can go a long way—especially among friends and family. With time always marching on, it’s critical to remember how important our aging loved ones are; how much they contribute to the community; and their evolving needs. Reminiscing with seniors is not only a great way to engage with them, it also helps reduce the dangers wrought by social isolation.

Family meals and gatherings offer wonderful opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, and for reminiscing. One way to enhance the well-being of older folks is by encouraging them to recall details from their life and times. Long-term memory tends to be persistent in older adults, and—through reminiscences—older folks can share their memories, and younger people can learn important stories and valuable lessons.

Holidays like Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah put a focus on family and the community, and it’s a great time to celebrate with older loved ones. However, reminiscing and sharing time together is something that can be done year-round, not just on special occasions.

Connecting Emotionally and Bonding with Others are Vital Factors to Health

Social isolation is a common risk for older adults, and seniors who end up isolated are more likely to confront both physical and mental health problems. And even when seniors are well-connected, gaps in connection or companionship can occur when younger generations get caught up in the details of their own lives. Scheduling times to reach out, or by creating inclusive plans that are welcoming to the entire family, no matter one’s age, can help ensure that everyone is truly involved.

In many ways, love can be measured with time, and gatherings offer elders a chance to spend time with their families, and connect. In turn, this affords them opportunities to reminisce and meaningfully engage with loved ones. This may lead to improvements in mental health, which in turn can have a big impact on physical health.

Getting the Whole Family Involved

Spending quality time with family can make a big difference in the life of an older adult. Specific, planned activities can enable deeper familial bonds, and even establish all-new memories. Does your loved one like to cook? Do they have a favorite recipe? If so, why not ask them to teach it to you as you cook together? Recipes can become family traditions passed down through generations, and cooking is a unique and celebrated way of honoring, and sharing, the past.

Kids enjoy playing games and being actively engaged. Older folks often played dreidel, cards, or board games when they were younger. When seniors share their favorite childhood games with kids, it can be an important intergenerational bonding moment. It could also spark happy, but dormant, childhood remembrances. What’s more, just as mental stimulation can encourage development in a child—it can similarly help to stave off dementia and other issues in older adults. This type of interaction is a win-win for all involved.

Cherishing Time Together Through the Years

The time we enjoy on earth is precious and limited. Life gets busy, and it can be difficult to make time for everyone, especially seniors, who may find traveling difficult. Still, they will alway appreciate and cherish time with family and friends.

Whenever possible, try to make one-on-one time for your elders. This can strengthen relationships and help ensure that elderly relatives have the opportunity to feel your love and compassion. While visiting, devote time to aging loved ones, and, when appropriate, ask them about their life and their memories.

If you would like to learn more about ways to connect with your elderly family members, or hear about communities they could become more involved with, the team at AgeWell Cincinnati can help. AgeWell Cincinnati is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our community has the resources to stay connected all year round. Please visit our website to learn more about ways we can help.