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This Is Your Life: The Value of Writing a Memoir

I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my life story. – Elvis Presley

 Every culture around the world has been recorded and preserved through the rich tradition of storytelling. Journal keeping, letter writing, and other sources are the basis of our knowledge of past civilizations, belief systems, and social history. These documents paved the way for modern-day memoirs, which are a valuable experience for every person, especially those who are in their golden years. Your life story is yours to share or to keep for yourself; either way, you can enrich your life by writing a memoir.

Be Kind, Rewind

 Older people can find several benefits from writing a life story.  Self-reflection provides the opportunity to reminiscence about both the good and not-so-good times in your past, to focus on all of the events that helped make you the person you are. By taking time to record your memories, you can improve your self-esteem and expand your personal vision of the meaning of life. Introspection allows for growth, especially at a time of life when many people feel stagnant.

For elderly individuals with cognitive conditions, benefits can be more quantitative. Some of the improvements can include:

  • Enhanced long-term memory
  • Sense of control and autonomy
  • Better behavioral functions
  • Increased socialization
  • Less depression, stress, and anxiety

No one can question how you remember things when you are writing a memoir, because your memories are from your point of view. There is no right or wrong way to reminisce.

The Bare Bones

 Writing is a highly personal process. You may choose to record the details of your life story in chronological order, or you may decide to focus on big events that shaped your journey. Any approach you choose can provide structure to your memoir. You can try any or all of these strategies:

  • Outlining by decade or milestones
  • Concentrating on childhood memories
  • Reflecting on historical events
  • Sharing wisdom gained through life experience
  • Remembering people who influenced you

You should also give thought to the logistics of memoir writing. Are you proficient with computers or more comfortable hand writing? Would you prefer taping your story or having a family member interview you? You can find a skilled person to transcribe your responses to make it easier on yourself if the telling is more enjoyable than the recording.

On Your Mark

Memoir writing can be something you do by yourself or a group activity where you learn and share with friends. We hope you will consider documenting your life story. Writing a memoir can provide a greater appreciation for the events that make up your life. For your family, your documented memories may be the best legacy you can give, a treasure to pass on to future generations.