Losing our Seniors History

We Are Losing Our Seniors & Their History One Brain at a Time

Do the seniors in your life have stories that are waiting to be told? What can you do to help preserve their legacies?

Culture is a way of life for a particular group of people – the way they do things. It’s an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior. Seniors play a huge role in passing along cultural values and traditions. The outlook, attitudes, values, morals, goals, and customs shared by society is ordinarily passed down as a spoken legacy from seniors to younger generations.

The matriarchs and patriarchs of most families are usually the people that know the most about their family history. What happens when memory loss occurs and small fragments of family heritage fade into the distant past?

We’re slowly losing our seniors. It’s not a physical loss, we’re losing the memories they once possessed in their minds, their thoughts and their history. While grandma and grandpa are still here, we have to allow our children to ask as many questions as possible. An important approach to take in residential assisted living is to record family history. It could be on audio or video.


  1. Have residents explain where they are from
  2. Have senior couples explain how they met
  3. Identify what languages they speak and the cultural traditions they participated in
  4. List the places they’ve traveled and the shared experiences they had
  5. Defines their personal passions

Conversations with people who served in World War II survived The Great Depression and witnessed the civil rights movement define moments in living history. That history is being lost, untold, and ignored. Unfortunately, once these seniors are gone, they are gone.

As a result, in order for culture to survive throughout generations, caregivers and family members of residential assisted living homes can help to preserve these memories. The ability to record and preserve history, memory and culture give younger generations a lot to look forward to. The folktales of seniors can change the lives of entire generations if assisted living homes and family members of elderly loved ones learn to value them.


Residential assisted living homes can apply a straightforward, fill in the blank approach to telling the life stories of seniors. This enables seniors to go through an interview process that is helpful for individuals who are over the age of 75. Family members and caregivers can also complete this fill in the blank life story for yourself.

Components To Support the Fill-In-The-Blank Profile

  • Life interview 
  • Generational Scrapbook 
  • Life Interview Kits 
  • Life Statement 
  • Biographies

These components are most helpful for individuals in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s. They are also very useful for workers in memory care centers working with seniors experiencing functional impairments. These fill in the blank sheets that can be completed by family members, staff, or assisted living home volunteers. This fill in the blank life story concept is used by a variety of different assisted living homes.


  1. Birth Certificates
  2. Diplomas 
  3. Degrees
  4. Military Discharge Papers
  5. Awards and Certificates 
  6. Marriage and Divorce Documents 
  7. Newspaper Articles 
  8. Tax Documents for Employment History 
  9. Pictures and Videos 
  10. Religious Artifacts

When seniors go through the process of an interview it can mean a great deal. Seniors especially, want to discuss the important or memorable aspects of their lives, dreams, ambitions, and personal challenges.

Owners and operators of residential assisted living homes must encourage staff to listen to these residents and journal their stories for future purposes. In addition, when young volunteers take time to listen to seniors, it sends a message to seniors that these stories are important.


  • Keep the interview simple like a casual conversation
  • Ask question loudly, clearly and slowly for clarity, and repeat when necessary
  • Maintain eye contact and listen carefully without interrupting 
  • Show compassion 
  • Expect moments of silence for reflection, reminiscing and remembering
  • Do not apply pressure 
  • Limit your interview to an hour
  • Show gratitude

Upon completion of each interview process, have a family member record the content on an audio or video for safekeeping. Remember, a video adds additional color to the life journey. This is one of the best ways to keep their legacy alive and preserve the rich cultures that seniors in assisted living represent.


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What happens when memory loss occurs and small fragments of family heritage fade into distant memory?

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