As we grow older, most people reflect on what their lives have stood for, how they will be remembered, and what legacy they will leave behind. Part of successful aging is feeling as if we made a difference in the world. Beyond financial planning concerns, there are other benefits of legacy planning that include living with purpose and documenting family history. For seniors, an important part of this process is feeling confident younger generations are aware of their values and experiences.
By spending time documenting a shared family story, everyone has an opportunity to learn and ask questions. This can be an intergenerational activity where younger loved ones interview the seniors in the family. These interactions can be captured on video and preserved for the future. Faraway family members can also join by Zoom or Skype.
Documenting Your Family History
To get started, it may help to begin asking questions about a senior loved one’s childhood and working forward to present day. Here is a list of questions family members can divide and ask their family elders.
- Where were you born and in what year?
- How many siblings did you have and were they older or younger?
- What were your parents like?
- How did your father propose to your mother?
- How many years were your parents married?
- What did your father do for a living?
- Did your mother work outside the home?
- Where did you live as a child?
- What school did you attend, and how far did you have to walk to school?
- What was your favorite subject?
- Did you have a favorite teacher?
- Did you have any pets growing up?
- What was the worst trouble you ever got into as a child?
- Did you have chores to do around the house?
- Did you receive an allowance and how much was it?
- How did you celebrate the holidays? What was your favorite holiday meal?
- Did your family go on summer vacations?
- What was your favorite one?
Coming Of Age Memories
- Who was your first date and where did you go?
- Did you have a car when you were in high school? What kind?
- How much did gas cost when you first started driving?
- Did you go to college or a trade school?
- How old were you when your family got a television?
- What were your favorite television shows?
- What kind of music did you listen to in high school?
Remembrances from Adulthood
- How did you meet your spouse?
- What was your wedding like?
- Where was your first apartment or house?
- How much was the rent or mortgage?
- What was parenthood like when your kids were young?
- What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
- Do you have any regrets or things you wish you could do over?
- How has the world changed the most from when you were a child?
- What advice do you have for the younger generation of the family?
One additional option to consider in legacy planning is to use a program like StoryWorth or MyCanvas. Both make the process of reminiscing and saving your family’s legacy easier.