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There’s something life-affirming in the notion that, while normal people go about the seemingly mundane act of living, they accrue unique expertise, play out fascinating stories, and witness world-changing events first hand.
“The dividends of telling their stories have real therapeutic value for the seniors themselves.”
Turns out everyone has a story. And the stories of America’s elderly make them a unique cultural treasure. But while individual seniors can have amazing stories to tell and a dramatic impact on the lives of those around them, the dividends of telling their stories have real therapeutic value for the seniors themselves.
Gerontologists and other health care professionals have documented cognitive and physical benefits of what they call “life review.” Studies show that seniors who have had the value of life review can have lower blood pressure, an improved sense of well-being, improved dispositions and greater awareness.
Of course, for every senior, there is a young person who interviews him or her. As part of the project design, students will need to do multiple interviews with elders over several weeks. Not only will these young people become comfortable in elder communities which they’re often visiting for the first time, relationships develop between elders and students that lessens the elders’ isolation and can have significant effects on young lives.
All of these many benefits are real and universal.
Elders love to tell stories. Preserving them is valuable in ways we don’t often consider.