Our lives extend as far into the future as others’ memories of us. Leaving behind a legacy is an important way for seniors to know that some part of who they were will live on after they die.
There are myriad ways to sculpt a legacy. Here are six ways you can help your loved one define and shape their own.
Help Your Loved One Update Their Will.
Updating a will might not sound thrilling, but it is the single best way to ensure the fruits of your loved one’s hard work extend into the next generation.
Your loved one can set up a trust to pay for the grandkids’ college, leave precious heirlooms to loved ones, donate possessions to charity, or even set up a foundation to benefit a special cause. If your loved one has any assets, schedule an appointment with a lawyer to create a will that honors your loved one’s values and preserves their legacy.
Find Caregivers for the Living Creatures Your Loved One Loves.
Many seniors deeply love other living creatures. Whether it is a carefully tended orchid garden or a scruffy but lovable dog, your loved one deserves to know that their hard work won’t be wasted. Talk to your loved one about what they would like you to do with these living creatures when they die. Can they begin training a grandchild on the ins and outs of orchid gardening now? Would a lonely relative love to take the dog? Simply knowing that their living companions will go to a loving home can ensure peace of mind.
Pass on Family and Cultural Traditions.
Many seniors feel frustrated that their children and grandchildren seem uninterested in their cultural and religious traditions. Particularly, if your loved one was an immigrant or a devout practitioner of a specific religion, they may worry that their traditions will die with them.
Ask them to teach you about these traditions, then spend time together practicing them. Learn how to perform an important cultural ritual, then treat these rituals with honor and dignity.
Help your loved one preserve their memories by working with them to log the story of their life. Start by helping them write a memoir or encouraging them to start a blog for family to enjoy.
Interviewing your loved one about their life and recording the conversation is another great way to help preserve their memories.
Build a Family Memory Book.
Help your loved one remember and preserve the best moments of their life by building a family memory book. Gather some scrapbooking supplies and make a family scrapbook. Ask your loved one to write down a few stories about the images in the book. Or consider adding new memories to the book by investing in professional photography.
Spend Time Together.
Spending time with your loved one is the single most important thing you can do to build a lasting legacy of memories. It is easy to get caught up in the desire to make every moment special, capture every photo, or do as many fun activities as possible. This pressure can quickly become a source of stress that erodes the quality of the time you spend together. Do not feel obligated to do any specific activity.
Quiet time spent in nature, a quick conversation, and an enjoyable meal matter just as much as the family trip you planned or the memoir you hope to write. Many loved ones find themselves so overwhelmed by the daily tasks involved with tending to their loved one that they forget to take a deep breath and enjoy the time they have together. Build your memory bank for the future and enjoy this precious time with your loved one now.