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Meaningful Mementos: Leaving a Legacy for Loved Ones

It’s human nature to want to leave a lasting imprint on the world and in the lives of our loved ones. People often believe that leaving a legacy means leaving a financial inheritance for your children. Unfortunately, that belief can make older adults reluctant to invest in residential care that could improve their health and quality of life.


Some of the most meaningful legacies have nothing to do with dollars and cents. By investing in care that addresses their daily living and healthcare needs, older adults and their adult children often have more time and energy to build memories that last a lifetime.


Some of the most meaningful legacy projects are those that you design and create together. So grab your parents and your children, and choose an heirloom project that speaks to you.


1. Photo Scrapbook. Too often, old photos get stuffed into shoeboxes without any clues about who’s pictured or when the image was taken. Assemble a family photo scrapbook and add captions that describe interesting anecdotes and meaningful details along with names and dates. If you use a web-based service that digitizes paper photos and slides, you can print a copy of the book for each member of the family.


2. Family Tree. Kick off a family genealogy project by asking older relatives what they remember about their ancestors’ names and places of birth. Look to online genealogy websites to help you fill in any blanks. Lots of companies and independent artists sell customizable family tree posters for you to create a frame-worthy family history.


3. Written Memoir. Help aging loved ones capture their memories and observations of important moments in their lives. Prompt them to include stories about distant ancestors and living family members, but don’t stop there. Also ask about military service, career achievements and their memories of important events in world history.


4. Oral History. Instead of recording your parent’s history on paper, use audio or video to record notable moments in his or her own voice. It doesn’t have to be formal. Treat the project like a casual conversation, and prompt your mom or dad with questions you’ve always wondered about.


5. Legacy Quilt. Take advantage of your loved one’s sewing skills to stitch together a one-of-a-kind keepsake. Collect special fabrics such as scraps of old baby clothes that can’t be reused, squares of the curtains that hung in your childhood living room or logo T-shirts from schools family members attended.


6. Family Recipe Book. Don’t let Great-Aunt Dorothy’s famous stew or Grandma Betty’s shortbread cookies be lost to history. Collect and record beloved family recipes and have them printed in keepsake books. If some of the recipes are already written down, scan or photograph the recipe cards to include in the book – you’ll treasure seeing your favorite recipes in your loved one’s handwriting for years to come.


There is no one right way to leave a legacy. At Heritage Communities, we want to know who our residents are as individuals. By getting to know who you truly are and what’s important to you, we can help you stay true to the legacy you want to leave. Learn more about the personalized senior living options at Heritage Communities.