December 2011 – Build a Legacy for Your Children

Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year!
In this issue you will be asked to be more observant about how your elderly relatives are doing during the holidays.I am offering you a Free webinar on Resources  to Assist Caregivers of Older Adults for January 10, 2012.  If you would like to attend, go to

Free Resources Webinar
If you would like to know more about the resources that would be helpful to you in caring for your parents.
Jan. 10th at 7 p.m. CST

Holidays are a Time to Be Observant
The Holidays are a good time to spend time with parents and observe how they are doing. Is the housekeeping up to normal standards? Is there a lot of clutter? Is the refrigerator full of old, moldy food? Are the dishes in the cupboard clean? Are their bills being paid on time? It might be a good time to ask them how they think they are doing? What do they feel they could use help with accomplishing? How you can help them?

There may be some services that could be hired to help them stay current in their home. You may offer to help change light bulbs; clean gutters or pay bills if they need help. Don’t be afraid to discuss the issues ahead of time so when they actually occur, the issue has already been addressed. Assure them that you want to support them in being independent.

Build a Legacy for Your Children

Most older adults want to contribute to the history of their family. One of my most cherished memories of my grandmother was a photo taken with 4 generations present. There was also a video of all of the members of my father’s family and their spouses taken one Easter morning.  By watching that video, my father and grandmother become alive again even though half of the siblings are gone now.

Even though you may not have an interest in family genealogy, your children may be interested at some point in their lives. Photo albums are great if the pictures are regularly put in them and the pictures are labeled. However, pictures fade after a while. Use a good photo program like Picasa to build digital albums of pictures. This program is very good about requesting names of persons in the photos.

  • Interview family members about their lives and type up a document with the results of the encounter. Include photos of them at different stages of their life.
  • Videographers are available to do a story of your life.  That could be a good gift for your parents so that the story of their life can be told. It would be a good gift to pass on to grandchildren who may have not met a grandparent or were too young when they were alive.
  • Go to to research your family origins.
  • Write your own autobiography for your children.
    • Where you were born
    • What your childhood and family were like
    • Your schools, sports and activities
    • Any awards you received
    • Your interests and hobbies
    • Successes and failures and what you learned from them
    • How you met your spouse; when you were married
    • Your work life
    • Anything you would like to impart to your children and grandchildren
    • What you liked best about your life
  • Record your voice and read or tell a story about a time in your life.
  • Write a letter to your children and grandchildren about wisdom you would like to impart and include it in your Will or Trust documents.
  • Videotape family members and have questions to ask them planned in advance. That will introduce all family members to grandchildren.
  • Attend a family reunion and get to know relatives you have never met.

Many older adults want to leave a legacy in what they contributed to their families and society over their lives. Sometimes that legacy is financial but providing family with memories that can be passed down gives them a sense of connection. Many times they are able to understand why they are the way they are by hearing about relatives. They can see resemblances through videos and photos and understand where some talents have been passed down. It is a way of strengthening the family connection in a time when society and work try to pull it apart. Consider how you might help to increase your families’ sense of connection.

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