July 29, 2019
Tom Meuser, Ph.D., director of the Center for Excellence in Aging and Health (CEAH), was recently interviewed by the Star Tribune, Minnesota’s largest newspaper, for an article about how to create a record of a cherished older person's life story.
According to the article, the most efficient way to create a biography is by recording a series of conversations.
Early memories grow more vivid in our later years and people feel a powerful need to reevaluate their legacy, according to gerontologists.
Meuser says that makes it an ideal time to ask probing questions.
“Give them a forum to tell their truth, to give testimony to what they hold dear and what they want to leave behind,” he told the Star Tribune. “Ask about their regrets and their thoughts about death. Those I’ve interviewed have said, 'We never talk this way.'"
When recording an individual’s history, Meuser warns against getting too tied to the facts of a timeline.
Meuser and student researchers have developed a board game, “Family Get Together,” designed to help relatives ask questions that encourage older adults to share their stories.