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How to Preserve and Revive Your Memory Through Writing by The Pittsburgh Better Times Team

The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in eight Americans over age 60 complain of worsening memory loss. The problem may be related to a medical condition, emotional problems, cognitive impairment or simply the indignities of aging, but it’s distressing regardless of the cause.

One way to preserve and possibly enhance memory is to proactively revisit your past. Reminiscence therapy is one technique option, with uses ranging from mental health interventions to memory care in nursing homes. But sometimes, simply committing your life experiences to paper (virtual or otherwise) can also be helpful and even therapeutic.

A variety of research studies have explored the health benefits of writing. The American Psychological Association, for instance, published a study indicating that expressive writing reduces “intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events,” allowing for better coping and improved working memory. Additionally, work by neurologist Judy Willis MD finds that reflective writing, when well guided, may be a source of conceptual development and stimulate the “brain’s highest cognition.”

Whether you or someone you know is impacted by a memory deficit, or you’re simply seeking a way to tell your own story for yourself and your family, here are five simple strategies for preserving and sharing your memories in writing.

#1: Choose a writing aid

There are a variety of online writing platforms to help you organize your thoughts and store them in one place, including journaling apps, memoir-writing software, and other platforms with pre-defined topics to help trigger memories. Many of these solutions are free and can give you the structure you need to both simplify and encourage the process.

#2: Use prompts

A common struggle for people writing for the first time is not knowing where to begin. Prompts like “Who was your childhood best friend?” can provide direction and inspiration. Object or photo prompts may be similarly effective.

A simple question like ‘What’s your favorite book?’ can bring you back to that time you were 8 years old and finished your first Nancy Drew book (or maybe Hardy Boys book if you’re a man.) A small thing like a book can bring clarity to the timeline of the memory, and lead you to recall other things from that same time period.

#3: Don’t worry about chronology

The process of recording your memories doesn’t always have to follow a chronological order. Sometimes following a timeline can take away focus and affect what you’re inspired to share. It’s generally better to write about a memory or a moment in time as you think about it, even if it’s out of sequence with other memories you’ve jotted down.

Maybe it’s your first car or your first kiss. Write what you want, when you want, and break it up into pieces to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project.

#4: Find your writing sweet spot

Some people write better after their first cup of coffee. Others are more productive midday or at night. Start by recognizing what works best for you. Ask yourself when your words seem to flow best. Is it as soon as a memory pops into your head? Is it when you wake up, or before you go to sleep? Try different approaches until you find the one that clicks.

#5: Invite others to contribute

Several years ago, my family began reminiscing via a group email. We wrote about an old bar in Boston that my grandfather owned, which prompted an engrossing series of stories from my dad and uncles about the barmaids, the keys to the liquor cabinet, and some incidents involving local law enforcement that many of us had never heard. The more we wrote, the more everyone wanted to chime in, and the more we learned.

This kind of collaboration, made easy by today’s online environment, helps unearth details you may not remember or may not have known.

Whether you or a loved one is facing memory challenges, or you simply want to preserve your memories for your children or grandchildren, filling in the memory gaps can be rewarding. There’s evidence it improves health and well-being. And if nothing else, it can be a great source of pleasure for you as well as your friends and family.

AUTHOR BIO:

Beth N. Carvin is CEO and co-founder of JamBios (www.jambios.com), a collaborative writing application and social platform for reminiscing, sharing and preserving memories. The company is headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Lost helped jump-start this  Hawaiian firm - Barron's

Lost helped jump-start this  Hawaiian firm. JamBios is a social media company that believes disaffected Facebook users want something more personal in the form of long written posts, photo albums and group discussions. Co-founder Beth Carvin has designed an ad-free network that highlights storytelling and "capturing memories."

The Hawaii-based company launched a year ago after Carvin met actor Henry Ian Cusick of Lost fame on the set of Rememory (2017). The movie tells the story of the discovery of an invention that can record and play a person's memory.

"Our approach is deeper and more personal than Facebook," Carvin tells Barron's. "It’s a positive experience when many people who go on social media get depressed or upset reading political rants or something else."

Whether that translates to a large audience in a crowded field is to be determined: Carvin declined to reveal the size of JamBios' membership. And, despite its flaws, Facebook (FB) does have 2.2 billion monthly active users.

A Way To Savor The Memories (May 2018)

Most of us pass our memories down to children and grandchildren through photos and word of mouth, but the real stories may eventually get lost – and along with them, family histories. Writing these stories down may seem daunting at first, but through digital tools, the process can be made simpler, and the final writing collection can be better organized and clearer to its future audience. Beth Carvin, after finding inspiration in stories of her great grandfather’s bar in Boston, founded a new online journaling site (also printable) called Jambios.

Writing to Preserve & Revive Memory

If you’re old enough to remember the John F. Kennedy assassination or the Cuban missile crisis, you’re probably realizing that your memory isn’t what it used to be. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control has reportedthat one in eight Americans over the age of 60 complains of worsening memory loss. The problem may be related to a medical condition, emotional problems, cognitive impairment or simply the indignities of aging, but it’s distressing regardless of the cause.

As it turns out, one way to preserve and in some cases even enhance memory is to proactively revisit your past. A technique called reminiscence therapy that is widely used in applications ranging from mental health interventions to memory care in nursing homes is one form. But simply committing your life experiences to paper (virtual or otherwise) can be helpful and even therapeutic.

 

That, at least, is what we hear from users of JamBios, a free online platform that provides a chapter-style framework to write and save the stories of your life. In one case, for example, a woman who suffered severe trauma as a child discovered that using the platform to write about her memories was like a key that unlocked them: “I’ve found it easier to remember my past, even those memories which I thought no amount of therapy and psychoanalysis would bring back.”

Research also shows the health benefits of writing. Over a decade ago, the American Psychological Association published a study indicating that expressive writing reduces “intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events and improves working memory.” Researchers concluded that these improvements help individuals cope more effectively with stress, because they have freed up cognitive resources.

More recently, in discussing the use of writing in education, neurologist Judy Willis MD noted that writing can “enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.” In other words, writing can transform an individual’s brain and memory.

 

Whether you or someone you know is impacted by a memory deficit, or you are simply looking for a way to tell your own story for yourself and your family, here are five simple strategies for preserving and sharing your memories in writing.

#1: Choose a writing aid

Today’s technology offers a variety of writing platforms to help you organize your thoughts and store them in one place. There are personal blogs, journaling applications, memoir writing software, and reminiscing platforms like JamBios that offer pre-defined topics to help trigger memories. Many of these solutions are free and can give you the structure you need to both simplify and encourage the process.

#2: Use prompts

When people sit down to write for the first time, they often don’t know where to begin. A prompt like “Who was your childhood best friend?” or “What was the first pet you owned?” can provide direction as well as get the memory juices flowing. The same thing can be accomplished by using prompts like objects or photos.

Says one JamBios user, “A simple question like ‘What’s your favorite book?’ brings you back to that time you were 5 years old and fell in love with Harry Potter for the first time. And then, just like that, you remember. You, stealing ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ copy your dad had from his bedside table and sneaking behind a couch to read it before he came home … A small thing like a book straightens my timeline of memories in such a way that, if I try to think as hard as I can about it, I can start recalling some other things from that period of time. And that way, things keep coming back, and back, and back.”

#3: Don’t worry about chronology

Recording your memories doesn’t always have to follow a chronological order. Sometimes attempting to follow a timeline can prevent you from writing about what you’re feeling or affect what you’re inspired to share. I’ve learned from personal experience that it’s better to write about a memory or a moment in time as you think about it, even if it’s out of sequence with other memories you’ve jotted down.

Maybe it’s your first car or your first kiss. Your favorite pets or favorite trips. Family holidays or family problems. Write what you want, when you want, and break it up into pieces to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project.

#4: Find your writing sweet spot

Some people write better after their first cup of coffee. Others are more productive midday or at night. Start by recognizing what works best for you. Ask yourself when your words seem to flow best. Is it as soon as a memory pops into your head? Is it when you wake up each morning, or before you go to sleep each night? Try different approaches until you find the one that clicks.

#5: Invite others to contribute

Several years ago, my family began reminiscing via a group email. We wrote about an old bar in Boston that my grandfather owned, which prompted an engrossing series of stories from my dad and uncles about the barmaids, the keys to the liquor cabinet, and some incidents involving local law enforcement that many of us had never heard. The more we wrote, the more everyone wanted to share and chime in, and the more we learned.

This kind of collaboration, made easy by today’s online environment, helps unearth details you may not remember or may not have known. With or without memory loss, it enriches the experience of taking a trip down memory lane.

Whether you or a loved one is facing memory challenges, or you simply want to preserve the memories you have for your children or grandchildren, filling in the memory gaps can be rewarding. With today’s technology, it’s easy to get started and remain consistent. There’s evidence it improves health and well-being. And if nothing else, it can be a great source of pleasure for you as well as your friends and family.

Beth N. Carvin is CEO and co-founder of JamBios (www.jambios.com), a collaborative writing application and social platform for reminiscing, sharing and preserving memories.

Research shows the health benefits of writing

If you’re old enough to remember the John F. Kennedy assassination or the Cuban missile crisis, you’re probably realising that your memory isn’t what it used to be. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control has reported that one in eight Americans over the age of 60 complains of worsening memory loss. The problem may be related to a medical condition, emotional problems, cognitive impairment or simply the indignities of aging, but it’s distressing regardless of the cause.

As it turns out, one way to preserve and in some cases even enhance memory is to proactively revisit your past. A technique called reminiscence therapy that is widely used in applications ranging from mental health interventions to memory care in nursing homes is one form. But simply committing your life experiences to paper (virtual or otherwise) can be helpful and even therapeutic.

That, at least, is what we hear from users of JamBios, a free online platform that provides a chapter-style framework to write and save the stories of your life. In one case, for example, a woman who suffered severe trauma as a child discovered that using the platform to write about her memories was like a key that unlocked them: “I’ve found it easier to remember my past, even those memories, which I thought no amount of therapy and psychoanalysis would bring back.”

Research also shows the health benefits of writing.

More than a decade ago, the American Psychological Association published a study indicating that expressive writing reduces “intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events and improves working memory”. Researchers concluded that these improvements help individuals cope more effectively with stress, because they have freed up cognitive resources.

More recently, in discussing the use of writing in education, neurologist Judy Willis noted that writing can “enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition”. In other words, writing can transform an individual’s brain and memory.

Whether you or someone you know is impacted by a memory deficit, or you are simply looking for a way to tell your own story for yourself and your family, here are five simple strategies for preserving and sharing your memories in writing.

1. Choose a writing aid

Today’s technology offers a variety of writing platforms to help you organise your thoughts and store them in one place. There are personal blogs, journaling applications, memoir writing software, and reminiscing platforms like JamBios that offer pre-defined topics to help trigger memories. Many of these solutions are free and can give you the structure you need to both simplify and encourage the process.

2. Use prompts

When people sit down to write for the first time, they often don’t know where to begin. A prompt like ‘Who was your childhood best friend?’ or ‘What was the first pet you owned?’ can provide direction as well as get the memory juices flowing. The same thing can be accomplished by using prompts like objects or photos.

3. Don’t worry about chronology

Recording your memories doesn’t always have to follow a chronological order. Sometimes attempting to follow a timeline can prevent you from writing about what you’re feeling or affect what you’re inspired to share. I’ve learned from personal experience that it’s better to write about a memory or a moment in time as you think about it, even if it’s out of sequence with other memories you’ve jotted down.

Maybe it’s your first car or your first kiss. Your favorite pets or favorite trips. Family holidays or family problems. Write what you want, when you want, and break it up into pieces to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project.

4. Find your writing sweet spot

Some people write better after their first cup of coffee. Others are more productive midday or at night. Start by recognising what works best for you. Ask yourself when your words seem to flow best. Is it as soon as a memory pops into your head? Is it when you wake up each morning, or before you go to sleep each night? Try different approaches until you find the one that clicks.

5. Invite others to contribute

Several years ago, my family began reminiscing via a group email. We wrote about an old bar in Boston that my grandfather owned, which prompted an engrossing series of stories from my dad and uncles about the barmaids, the keys to the liquor cabinet, and some incidents involving local law enforcement that many of us had never heard. The more we wrote, the more everyone wanted to share and chime in, and the more we learned.

This kind of collaboration, made easy by today’s online environment, helps unearth details you may not remember or may not have known. With or without memory loss, it enriches the experience of taking a trip down memory lane.

Whether you or a loved one is facing memory challenges, or you simply want to preserve the memories you have for your children or grandchildren, filling in the memory gaps can be rewarding. With today’s technology, it’s easy to get started and remain consistent. There’s evidence it improves health and well-being. If nothing else, it can be a great source of pleasure for you as well as your friends and family.

Writing to Preserve and Revive Memory

If you’re old enough to remember the John F. Kennedy assassination or the Cuban missile crisis, you’re probably realizing that your memory isn’t what it used to be. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control has reported that one in eight Americans over the age of 60 complains of worsening memory loss. The problem may be related to a medical condition, emotional problems, cognitive impairment or simply the indignities of aging, but it’s distressing regardless of the cause.

As it turns out, one way to preserve and in some cases even enhance memory is to proactively revisit your past. A technique called reminiscence therapy that is widely used in applications ranging from mental health interventions to memory care in nursing homes is one form. Similarly just committing your life experiences to paper (virtual or otherwise) can be helpful and even therapeutic.

That, at least, is what we hear from users of JamBios (www.jambios.com), a free online platform that I began; it provides a chapter-style framework to write and save the stories of your life. In one case, for example, a woman who suffered severe trauma as a child discovered that using the platform to write about her memories was like a key that unlocked them: “I’ve found it easier to remember my past, even those memories which I thought no amount of therapy and psychoanalysis would bring back.”

Research also shows the health benefits of writing. Over a decade ago, the American Psychological Association published a study indicating that expressive writing reduces “intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events and improves working memory.” Researchers concluded that these improvements help individuals cope more effectively with stress, because they have freed up cognitive resources.

More recently, in discussing the use of writing in education, neurologist Judy Willis, MD, noted that writing can “enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.” In other words, writing may transform an individual’s brain and memory.

Whether you or someone you know is impacted by a memory deficit, or you are simply looking for a way to tell your own story for yourself and your family, here are five simple strategies for preserving and sharing your memories in writing.

Choose a writing aid 

Today’s technology offers a variety of writing platforms to help you organize your thoughts and store them in one place. There are personal blogs, journaling applications, memoir writing software, and reminiscing platforms like JamBios. Many of these solutions are free and can give you the structure you need to both simplify and encourage the process.

Use prompts 

When people sit down to write for the first time, they often don’t know where to begin. A prompt like “Who was your childhood best friend?” or “What was the first pet you owned?” can provide direction as well as get the memory juices flowing. The same thing can be accomplished by using prompts like objects or photos.

Says one JamBios user, “A simple question like ‘What’s your favorite book?’ brings you back to that time you were five years old. And then, just like that, you remember. A small thing like a book straightens my timeline of memories in such a way that, if I try to think as hard as I can about it, I can start recalling some other things from that period of time. And that way, things keep coming back, and back, and back.”

Don’t worry about chronology 

Recording your memories doesn’t always have to follow a chronological order. Sometimes attempting to follow a timeline can prevent you from writing about what you’re feeling or affect what you’re inspired to share. I’ve learned from personal experience that it’s better to write about a memory or a moment in time as you think about it, even if it’s out of sequence with other memories you’ve jotted down.

Maybe it’s your first car or your first kiss. Your favorite pets or favorite trips. Family holidays or family problems. Write what you want, when you want, and break it up into pieces to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project.

Find your writing sweet spot

Some people write better after their first cup of coffee. Others are more productive midday or at night. Start by recognizing what works best for you. Ask yourself when your words seem to flow best. Is it as soon as a memory pops into your head? Is it when you wake up each morning, or before you go to sleep each night? Try different approaches until you find the one that clicks.

Invite others to contribute

Several years ago, my family began reminiscing via a group email. We wrote about an old bar in Boston that my grandfather owned, which prompted an engrossing series of stories from my dad and uncles about the barmaids, the keys to the liquor cabinet, and some incidents involving local law enforcement that many of us had never heard. The more we wrote, the more everyone wanted to share and chime in, and the more we learned.

This kind of collaboration, made easy by today’s online environment, helps unearth details you may not remember or may not have known. With or without memory loss, it enriches the experience of taking a trip down memory lane.

Whether you or a loved one is facing memory challenges, or you simply want to preserve the memories you have for your children or grandchildren, filling in the memory gaps can be rewarding. With today’s technology, it’s easy to get started and remain consistent. There’s evidence it improves health and well-being. And if nothing else, it can be a great source of pleasure for you as well as your friends and family.

by BETH N. CARVIN

Boomer TV Interviews Beth about JamBios

Listen as Steve Sweitzer from Boomer TV interviews Beth about all the cool ways you can reminisce digitally. Write, save, and share your precious memories on the web using JamBios.

Annie Cusick Wood Introduces the JamBios Memory Gallery Exhibition for November 2017

Autumn Memories: Annie Cusick puts out a call for entries for the JamBios Memory Gallery. The online exhibition will include memory stories, poems, photographs and drawings with the topic of: Autumn Memories

Submit entries by registering a JamBio (free) at www.jambio.com.

Write or upload your original entry into a JamBios Chapter Section and select Reader: Memory Gallery memorygallery@jambios.com.

All entries should be submitted to the gallery no later than October 27th. Entries should be less than 1000 words, be original and be based on a real memory.

For more info follow us on twitter @jambiosinc and facebook www.facebook.com/jambiosinc.