5 Ways to Preserve Family Memories

By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor

Have you ever had a conversation with your parent that ends up with your response being, “I didn’t know that about you, dad” or “Mom, you never told me that before!”

How much do you know about your parent’s life? Who will preserve the memories and knowledge of family history when your parents are gone? Will family stories be passed down from generation-to-generation? If your family doesn’t have a storyteller, family history could eventually disappear.

The upcoming holiday season is a great time to take steps to preserve your family’s memories. Although the task of preserving family memories sounds complex, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective.

Here are some ways to preserve your family’s memories.

Make a family video. A video biography not only captures family stories, but also your elder’s voice, image and personality – something that only film can reproduce. Make a video of your parent responding to questions from you or another family member. Talking is usually easier for older parents than writing memories down, and you’ll be glad later that you saved your parent’s likeness and voice in addition to preserving family stories.

The Power of Telling Family Stories

It could be as simple as a hand-held video device. Sitting around after Thanksgiving Dinner and telling stories. Or, if going all out is your family’s style, have a professional videotaping session, where a videographer comes to where your parent lives, with a professional video, audio and lighting equipment.

“Generations of their families yet unborn will be able to experience their ancestors’ recollections first hand,” Steve Pender, President of Family Legacy Video, Inc. (www.familylegacyvideo.com) says of the power of video technology. “They’ll not only learn valuable family history in a first-hand way, but by seeing and hearing the physical and personality traits they share with their storytellers, they’ll connect with them in a very personal manner. The process of creating a video biography can also bring families closer, help family members reconnect and foster an appreciation for, and pride in, shared family history.”

Caregiver Walks Across America to Honor Her Mom
Give Your Dad the Best Father’s Day Gift Ever: Your Attention
How Caring for a Spouse Can Strengthen Your Bond

Memory Keepers: Preserve Family Memories originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

Gather up loose photos. Those shoeboxes full of disorganized photos, stacks of dusty photo albums, and slides no one has looked at since the slide projector broke 15 years ago are a treasure chest of memories waiting to spring back to life.

What can you do with those old fading photos? Digitally scan old prints and then save them onto CDs or DVDs or an external hard drive. Make a digital scrapbook. Or send files to companies like Shutterfly and Smilebooks who will create a hard cover photo books for under $30.

Get secret family recipes. Recipes are another type of heirloom that might be overlooked…until it’s Thanksgiving and no one knows the secret ingredient in mom’s stuffing or dad’s trademark pumpkin pie. The foods families share contain as much tradition as they do flour or salt. Getting recipes down on paper goes much deeper than eating good food. It’s about documenting family traditions. To take it a step further, create a family cookbook that includes the signature dishes of aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings.

Conversation Starters: 20 Questions to Ask Your Parents

Record your family tree. Tracing your family history through the generations has never been easier thanks to technology. Look for easy-to-use programs like Ancestry.com, an online collection of historical records, and family-tree building software like Family Tree Maker and Legacy. Your parent can lend a hand by providing maiden names, and long-lost relatives who died young.

Archive at library of congress. History buffs can have a relative’s audio recording archived at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is a mobile audio company that has traveling audio booths and door-to-door programs that travel across the country to nursing homes, Alzheimer’s support groups, libraries and private residences. CD audio is archived among 38,000 others who’ve documented their audio family recordings.

The bottom line is to not get so bogged down in the tasks of everyday living that you forget what a treasure you have in your elders. Take the time to try to gain insight on their perspective of the world and what they may yet have share. You could be bestowing a great gift on the generations that come after you.

A Caregiver’s Guide to Caring for a Narcissist
What It Feels Like to be Old
Social Media Provides Caregivers a Cyber Shoulder to Lean On

Memory Keepers: Preserve Family Memories originally appeared on AgingCare.com.



Lu Ann P.
Past Member 6 years ago


Sergio Rudini Stinco
Gustav R6 years ago

I so thank you!!!. Regards, Sergio.

Annemarie W.
Annemarie L6 years ago

thank for the tips. I have been needing to do this!

Anne F.
Anne F6 years ago

Good suggestions. Also, a notebook to write down what you remember as it comes to mind is good. Things like what was school like for you? How were birthdays celebrated? tales of courtship and weddings;

Danielle I.
Danielle I6 years ago

I also try to visit the family graves, once a year, as a mark of respect but also so their resting places are not forgotten. I hope my daughter will follow on this tradition when I am gone as I think it is important that they are not forgotten and that their grave sites are not left neglected. I clean them up and put flowers. My Grandmother loves that I go and check on her wee baby boy who died at birth. He has no headstone as they had no money, just concrete with the surname written with a stick as it set.

Danielle I.
Danielle I6 years ago

I am lucky that one side of my family has researched our family tree extensively, I have a folder of old letters, photos, birth and death certificates, ship records from when the first of the family came to New Zealand. My favourite is a photo of my 4x Great Grandfather outside his gorgeous home when he was 92 with his 70 year old daughter! I took the original photo, borrowed from a relative and had it professionally re photographed so we have a negative for others to get prints and I have a huge copy of it on my wall. The video idea is a great one, unfortunately my Grandmother has deteriorated of late and no longer recalls the gems and wisdoms that she once shared with us. I remember a lot though and this has given me the incentive to write them all down, for future generations. Little gems like my Great Grandmother used to use her wedding ring as a pendulum to check whether her hens eggs would produce roosters or hens before she put them under a clucky hen :) I also have collected family recipes over the years and plan to have them professionally made into a l recipe book to give to my daughter and nieces for their 21st birthdays :)

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

Old photos fascinate me.

iii q.
g d c6 years ago

nice ideas! ty

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

Great ideas!

Shan D.
Shan D6 years ago

It helps to learn to read the language of the country your ancestors are from. My grandparents are from Sweden, and although I can read a little bit, it's still frustrating to find letters and notes in photo albums that I have no idea what they say.