3 Ways Genealogy Benefits Seniors

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More and more seniors are researching their ancestry as a way to leave a lasting legacy to their loved ones. Genealogy websites are now the second most-visited sites on the Internet. Besides discovering their lineage, are there additional benefits seniors get from studying their family history?

The answer is YES. Here are three therapeutic benefits seniors can get from tracing their family ancestry.

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#1 - Psychological Benefits

Discovering your family history involves researching and reminiscing, two activities that have strong psychological benefits for seniors. Family history research is the second-most popular hobby in the United States, according to articles in TIME and USA TODAY by author and former LA Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez. Pursing research as a hobby provides mental stimulation and a sense of purpose for seniors. Learning new skills like using a computer and reading improves cognitive abilities. Particularly in the areas of the brain that are associated with communication, decision –making, empathy, and vocabulary. Studying the past and brings up memories and has proven to be helpful for aging adults. Research shows that reminiscing improves self-esteem, cognition, lessens depression, and improves and enhances feelings of control and mastery over life.

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# 2 - Medical Benefits

In a report released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 96 percent of Americans believe that family health history is important. Unfortunately, only one-third were able to gather it. Because some of the most common age-related ailments are passed from one generation to the next, collecting medical information while researching the family tree provides substantial health benefits for seniors and their descendants. It can help determine risk factors and fill gaps in your family medical history left open by distant relatives.

Genealogy work can actually have immediate physical benefits as well. According to the book, "I Remember When: Activity to Help People Reminisce" by Howard Thorsheim and Bruce Roberts, seniors who reminisced showed lowered blood pressure and heart rates.

# 3 - Social Benefits

Genealogy as a hobby allows seniors to connect with the past, the present, and leave a legacy for the future. It eliminates boredom and provides a way to communicate with family and friends in a way that is meaningful to them. Often children in elementary or middle school study their family ancestry. One recent study carried out at Emory University on this found that genealogy research helped adolescents form a positive sense of identity and self-awareness. The benefits for older adults studying and sharing family history are the same and more. It can connect family members across multiple generations who might otherwise have a difficult time finding similar interests.

Ongoing social stimulation and interaction have been shown to slow age-related memory loss. As seniors research and remember the past, new pathways are formed in the brain that actually helps with communication.

Have you looked into your genealogy with a senior family member or loved one? Would you like some help? I’m Kimberlie Guerrieri. I’m a Certified Genealogist with more than 15 years of experience assisting people to discover their family histories and solve some pretty cool mysteries. Contact me for a FREE discovery call to discuss your goals and let’s get started!