Connecting the Generations

“Connecting the Generations – Your Stories….My Stories”

Are you looking for conversation starters? Many of you may enjoy reminiscing but older adults, particularly those with some form of dementia, often like to sharing memories from the past.  Sometimes they may have trouble recalling specific names or will have a tendency to retell the same story over and over. Initiating a variety of topics may no longer be something they can easily handle. Some of them have commented they do not tell their stories to those closest to them any more because they feel others are tired of hearing them.

Being a home health speech-language pathologist, one the most fulfilling aspects is learning the stories of my patients. Not only does it help to create a more effective care plan but hearing more of their life’s journey is often so interesting and provides pertinent topics for ongoing conversation and related therapy tasks.

Connecting the Generations provides an opportunity to encourage those conversations as young and old share stories. There are a wide variety of topics with questions for the young to ask to older person and visa versa.

During an evaluation many years ago I had a patient with Alzheimer’s disease living in a memory care residence. His conversation centered on the past, often the same story repeated with frustration as he struggled to find the correct words. His 2 sons came to visit periodically but never stayed for long and I suggested they attend a session. One of my goals was to help them better understand ways to create more meaningful visits and how to cue him when he struggled with a name.

What happened made a difference in the connection these men had with their dad. Using Connecting the Generations their dad was able to pick questions from the section for a younger person and read some aloud. Since oral reading is frequently preserved in those with Alzheimer’s disease, his sons were given the opportunity to share some aspects of their life while he presented a wide variety of questions.  Their dad was no longer able to create questions and it was heartwarming to see how a short visit turned into an hour of conversation and smiles as his sons were able to enhance the time they spent together.

Some older adults have used the topics as a way to journal their stories. One woman used the questions with her teenage granddaughter who decided to record their answers and make copies as a gift for other family members. The questions can be posted in senior residences or offered while waiting for a meal to be served to increase the connection of the residents.  One family member wrote answers to some of the questions for her dad to read aloud when people visited. He was no longer able to write or explain things easily but he was able to share some stories by reading aloud. This often led to more spontaneous comments on different subjects by all involved.

This resource can help people of all ages enjoy the journey of others when precious memories, powerful wisdom, and the humor are shared and then passed on to future generations.

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Budda

About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters (www.memoryfitnessmatters.com) and Communication Connection(www.connectionsincommunication.com). She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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