The New York Time’s recently published an article on their “New Old Age” blog about a program called Guided Autobiography, which helps seniors create their own autobiographies so that their stories can be shared with future generations. The program, which is offered on college campuses and in libraries, community centers, assisted living facilities and nursing homes, provides a structured, step-by-step guide that helps seniors recall and document their experiences.
The article’s discussion of the less-obvious benefits of writing an autobiography was what really interested me. According to psychologists, going through the process of reevaluating and resolving memories and conflicts later in life are a crucial part of one’s personal development. Reflecting and reminiscing on our past can bring us the inspiration, energy and determination needed to make changes and improve ourselves.
Studies have also shown that sharing personal experiences builds trust and relationships between writers and audiences. Writing about one’s past can bring insight, reconciliation, and acceptance of the life one has lived. It can also help give a stronger sense of purpose to those in their later years. Encourage your loved ones to share their own experiences. Not only will others learn from their past, but they may learn things they did not realize about themselves as well!