How to Preserve Family Memories

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Preserving family memories can be a priceless gift.

One of the most common regrets families have is that no one thought to preserve memories before they were lost, either to an illness like Alzheimer’s disease or with passing.

Thanks to today’s technology, you have more choices than ever in how to preserve those memories. And it’s easier and faster than previous generations.

After World War II, the parents of baby boomers sought to preserve their children’s lives through photos and videos. Before digital imaging, both still and video cameras used film, which after exposure needed developed in a film lab. Today, smart phones and tablets both have the capabilities of taking either still photos or videos without needing development later. And unlike those video cameras of the past, today’s technology can also simultaneously record both audio and video.

Another regret many survivors have is that they wish they could see or hear their departed loved one. With audio and video recordings, they can see and hear the images of the past. It may help them in grieving.

Preserving memories can include both recording the reminiscences of the past and documenting current activities and events.

One solution is a Memory Book or Journal. A journal can be either written in longhand or typed. This solution may be challenging because even experienced professional writers sometimes find it intimidating to fill a blank page or screen.

A memory book is another low-tech way to preserve memories by creating scrapbooks from photos with captions or explanations of the photos. Photos can be duplicated for multiple books. Aged photos may need professional restoration or copied digitally before use. Acid free papers and other specialized supplies are available to help preserve the photos and memories for future generations.

You may already have a smart phone or tablet that takes photos and videos. They may be all the equipment you need to collect memories of both the past and the present.

After recording, the photos and videos need removed and preserved. You should explore the options, including DVDs and online storage. And also consider the shelf life of the storage. For example, how long are the DVD discs expected to last? Whether you’re looking at photos from 100 years ago that have aged and faded or today’s videos on DVD, consider how long you want their storage to last before purchasing.

How do you get someone to share memories?

One of the easiest ways is to ask him to tell you a story. From childhood on, most people love to hear stories. And it may be easy to convince Grandma and Grandpa to share stories of their childhood for their grandchildren. The series of Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder has been popular with children for generations. Written for children, in those books she told stories of her life while growing up.

Asking someone to reminisce with minimal prompting usually works best. If her recollection varies from yours, it’s a gift to allow them to reminisce without correction. You may be surprised at the depth of details you can get from them, or find humor in the differences of your recollections. And you may learn some things you never knew before.

When there are five witnesses to an accident, it’s not uncommon for there to be five versions of what happened. And if your loved one’s version varies from yours, it can be interesting to see the differences. It may actually help you understand her and how her life experiences have shaped her into the person she is today. If necessary, you can add an explanation or editing later.

Preserving memories can be done in a variety of ways, often with some supplies and equipment you already have. With a bit of time and patience you can preserve precious memories and even recordings of voices and faces for those left behind and for future generations

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