senior man with his hand on another senior man's shoulder

Roots & Wings: Leaving Your Legacy, Passing On Your Wisdom (Part 4 of 4)

The philosophy of Roots and Wings is a dual approach of building a sense of tradition and looking to the future. In this four part series, we explore different ways for seniors to share roots and wings with their children, grandchildren and other loved ones. From passing on traditions to building a legacy to helping shape a stable future, there are many ways you can build meaningful moments that will have echoes far into the future.

What do you want to leave your children? Grandchildren? Family? Passing on something of ourselves is a natural desire as we age. We want to know that we’re helping make the world a better place in some small way. For most of us, this translates into leaving a legacy for our loved ones.

“Certainly, many seniors wish to leave a financial legacy for their family, but our gifts don’t necessarily have to be financial,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Think of your cherished traditions, or the knowledge you’ve accumulated over the years or the things that are most important to you, like your faith. Creating a legacy is a way of making a difference in the lives of your family and something that allows you to live on, even after your physical presence is gone.”

A personal legacy can take on all shapes and forms. Some individuals choose to leave a legacy in a very prominent, public way, such as donating money to a cause or creating an organization to continue the good work they’ve done. Other individuals choose to take steps to enrich the lives of their families through college funds or precious heirlooms. And others choose to pass along a legacy in our beliefs, values and dreams for those we care about.

Some of these legacies can be passed on through our actions, while others are a more deliberate ‘handing over’ of a legacy, says Andrea. Whether you wish to pass on a legacy while you’re living or after you’ve left this earthly plane, or a little of both, is up to you. “It’s never too early or too late to think about the kind of legacy we want to leave our descendants,” says Andrea. “You can begin by thinking, concretely, of what purposeful actions you can take to pass on the lessons, wisdom and beliefs that are most important to you. Then, think about different ways on how you can share this with your family members in a way that is meaningful and impactful.”

Passing On a Legacy … of Memories
“Do you remember when…?” Telling stories and meaningful memories that were made with those we love is a way to give your family the gift of “you.” By telling stories about your childhood, experiences and life and heritage, you allow your family to understand more about who they are and who you are. It creates a shared experience that can become a cherished family story for generations to come. But don’t forget about the power of creating memories together while you’re still here. Spending time with our loved ones and having experiences that they’ll carry with them for their life are powerful ways to continue your story … now and in the future.

Sharing a Legacy of … Faith
Your faith and heritage can be a priceless legacy to your family members. Talk to your family, either in person or in a letter, what your faith means to you and how it has shaped the way you live your life. If you carry on traditions, describe how they have helped you grow throughout your life and allowed you to deepen your commitment to your spirituality. Faith is a legacy that will grow and change throughout life, so be honest with the way that your faith has changed throughout the years. Most importantly, live your faith in your words, deeds, traditions and celebrations.

Carrying on a Legacy of … Beliefs and Values
Beliefs and values can go hand in hand with faith, but these legacies can encompass so much more than that. For example, perhaps you believe in giving back to our communities and that volunteering for worthy causes is an essential part of a fulfilled life. Or that we have a role as custodians of the Earth and we should do what we can to preserve our natural resources. Whatever beliefs and values have defined you can show your family examples of how to live a meaningful life.

Starting Points for Passing On Your Legacy
Write a letter. One of the simplest ways to share your thoughts, wisdom and feelings are through pen and paper. Some seniors have chosen to write letters to all their family members to be opened at a specific time (such as at a wedding, a milestone birthday, etc.) that will share your hopes for them, dreams and anything else you’d like to share. You don’t have to limit yourself to one letter or to one recipient. You could create a journal (either a hardcopy or online) that you can keep coming back to as you think of things … sort of a running diary, but for your legacy versus just your personal thoughts. (Although those are beneficial, too).

Film a family documentary. Sometimes it’s easier to talk or tell a story verbally. One option is to sit with different family members and have them interview you or ask specific questions about topics they want to know more about. Online resources such as StoryCorps have prompts and tips for creating stories that can be watched or listened to again and again.

Create a scrapbook. Dust off those old family photos, essays, newspaper clippings and audio recordings and put them in a format that’s enjoyable to read. This is where the wonders of the Internet can work for you. Create a digital scrapbook, or use a company such as LegacyBox to convert old files into digital ones for easy storage, sharing and access. However, there’s often no substitute for a hard-copy, heavy photo book that you can flip through. As you go through photos and files, write down where the item was taken, what its significance is, who was involved in the event and so on.

“Passing on our wisdom and our legacies is one of the most enduring things we can share with our children,” says Andrea. “Whatever you choose to leave behind, you’ll be remembered through your family’s stories, thoughts and memories. It’s a beautiful gift you can give them – and yourself as well.”

For more information about creating or sharing a legacy, contact our community at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.