Senior Living, How To's and Tips, Workforce Engagement

No One is Looking at Employee Retention Like This

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Employee turnover is plaguing the senior living industry. According to recent surveys, the annual rates of staff turnover in assisted living range from 21% to 135% across states and reach a national average of 42%. This means increased costs and lowered community-wide satisfaction. It can even decrease occupancy.

When faced with this challenge, senior care providers are encouraged to offer competitive wages, proactively recruit, improve training, and provide a comfortable work environment, among other tangible things. Yet, no one is making substantial strides in increasing staff retention.

That’s why we need to look at employee retention through a new lens.


Organizational Commitment

Organizational commitment  is closely linked with staff turnover. Employees that are committed to their jobs are less likely to quit and perform better; it’s even a better predictor of turnover than job satisfaction. So how do senior living providers foster organizational commitment?

Organizational culture.

Culture is not just marketing ploy for companies. The power of its influence shapes how staff perceive their jobs and their commitment. Establishing an organization that values morale, teamwork, and participation in decision making doesn’t happen overnight. If being intentional about your company’s culture isn’t on your radar, Entrepreneur provides an article on building a strong company culture here.

 

Interpersonal Relationships

A common thread among employees in this industry is their fondness of the residents, and this unique relationship with the seniors can actually translate to job commitment. When staff engage with residents through meaningful conversation, a bond is created that directly contributes to retention. The residents become more than patients: they’re extended family. And saying goodbye to family is much more difficult than leaving for transnational purposes.

A study looked at employees who were considering leaving their jobs compared to those who actually quit. On the basis of their ranking of reasons for staying and leaving, the study suggests that “stayers” appeared to assign more importance to the intrinsic or people-oriented rewards of their jobs, such as relationships with residents, feelings about caring for sick people, and relationships with supervisors. Further, their fondness of the residents was a prominent reason for them staying, as exemplified by the typical comment: “they [residents] wrap around your heart”.

However, with all the must-haves in senior living, the stress of meeting regulations and staying compliant, and ensuring residents are happy and healthy, making time for “meaningful interaction” often slips through the cracks. That’s why it is critical that staff integrate these interactions into their daily routines. Simple tools and technology can help promote purposeful conversation.

Because of the therapeutic and cognitive benefits, there is a huge emphasis on storytelling for seniors. However, storytelling also gives context into the resident’ lives, and helps the staff view the residents as more than a task, they’re a grandfather/daughter/successful entrepreneur/world traveler with a rich history behind them.

Strong bonds and residents who feel celebrated mean happier employees. And happier employees stay longer.

 

Looking at Employee Retention in a New Light 

With the projected care staff shortage and the increasing need for services related to the growing elderly population, a focus on staff turnover is critical in meeting the needs of the aging population.

The success of your senior living organization greatly relies on your ability to attract and retain employees who are passionate about carrying out the company’s resident-centered philosophy into their daily routines.

A focus on increasing organizational commitment and employee-resident connection might be the missing link in your staff retention strategy.

 


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TSOLife (The Story Of Life) focuses on preserving legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. We help senior living communities leverage technology to capture, preserve, and share the life stories of the residents in their care. It fostering purposeful engagement and providing a precious keepsake for the families.

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Celebrating Life, How To's and Tips

Seniors Can Get More and Better Sleep By Following This Essential Advice

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Contributed by Karen Weeks of Elder Wellness

Are you a senior who struggles to get enough sleep? A routine of restful sleep at night can help seniors preserve their physical health while maintaining cognitive function; but if you need help getting the sleep you need, then you need to pay attention to the following tips.
 

Thoroughly Address Serious Sleep Issues

Though often overlooked, your sleep issues could be the result of an actual sleep disorder. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and restless leg syndrome (RLS), can keep seniors from getting the sleep they need to stay healthy. With proper testing and treatment, however, you can get these issues under control and get to sleep again. For seniors who use Medicare, be aware of the coverage regarding sleep disorders, testing, and treatments. For Medicare to cover testing, you may need to be under a certain plan, and you will need a referral from a doctor. You can find out more about various sleep disorders, tests, and how Medicare covers sleep issues by clicking here. When a sleep or health issue seems to be at the root of your lack of sleep, it may be time to talk to your doctor.


Develop a Healthy Diet and Exercise Routine

You may already be aware of how a balanced diet and regular exercise can impact your overall health and brain function—but did you know that diet and exercise can affect the way you sleep? Getting enough exercise and eating a balanced diet can help you get more restful sleep. One of the best ways for seniors to stay active during the day is by walking. Walking is underrated as a form of exercise, but even a few extra steps can improve your health and help you get better sleep. Seniors can use a pedometer or fitness tracker to get a better handle on their physical health and track the number of steps they take each day. The best pedometers and fitness trackers will count your steps, calculate the distance you’ve traveled, and keep tabs on how many calories you burn. Keeping these counts in mind can motivate seniors to get the exercise they need to preserve their body, their cognitive function, and the quality of their sleep.


Properly Prepare Your Mind and Body for Sleep

One of the most effective ways to promote better sleep is to develop a bedtime routine that helps your brain and body unwind. Many people with sleep issues find it helpful to complete a brain dump before they crawl into bed. You can use a journal to write down all your thoughts, worries, and things to do so that they aren’t keeping you up at night. If your body has a hard time relaxing before bed, try some steps to physically wind down as well. A warm shower or bath can regulate your body temperature for better sleep. You can even use relaxing yoga to release tension from your muscles and soothe yourself to sleep.


Create a Sleep Sanctuary in Your Bedroom  
 

If you have problems getting to sleep, you should make your bedroom a haven for relaxation. Stick to using your bedroom for sleep and avoid completing other activities, such as watching television or even reading, while you are tucked into bed. If it’s been a while since you purchased your mattress, consider shopping around for a new one that is more supportive and less worn down. The right bedding and pillows can enhance your sleep as well. You can find pillows made for various sleeping positions, designed to correctly support your neck and head however you like to sleep. Cooling sheets and layered blankets can also help seniors regulate body heat and stay cool enough to stay asleep.

Like diet and exercise, sleep is essential in helping seniors stay strong, healthy, and happy. So take some steps to improve your sleep, as well as your wellness and quality of life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash 

 

 

Elder Wellness is a resource for older adults who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well.

Celebrating Life, How To's and Tips, Senior Living

5 Fresh Activities for Seniors in Assisted Living

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Seniors in assisted living want to stay connected to their interests and passions. Families want to know that mom or dad is in a good community. Activity directors want fresh, worthwhile ideas that will generate participation and enthusiasm.

Meaningful activities can combat against depression, a common risk in long-term, senior living. Physical activities are hugely important, but the importance of cognitive exercises and social interaction cannot be downplayed.

The problem is that most assisted living communities have a very small activities budget. So, when resources and abilities are tight, make sure your activities calendar is packed with energetic and meaningful activities that will generate the most participation and greatest impact.

We’ve put together a quick list of some of our favorite assisted living activities that can lead to purposeful discussions and meaningful interactions.

Life Story Workshops 

Workshops that encourage discussing and writing life stories provide the opportunity for seniors to preserve their memories and leave their legacies. Seniors will enjoy sharing happy memories and the “good ole’ days”, but even more, talking about difficult memories can turn into a positive experience and contribute to a stronger community. There are numerous clinical studies that show that sharing life stories can be therapeutic for seniors suffering from depression.

Organize a group sharing session with a weekly theme, such as “Christmas Family Traditions”, “Favorite Vacations”, or “Childhood Memories”. Check out these prompts for intriguing questions and themes that you can use for inspiration.

Small groups work best with this activity so that an intimate environment is created and trust can be built. However, if resources and staff are limited, have seniors with similar interests partner with one another, or showcase a select few residents each week, and give them the floor to speak.

Remember to keep the sessions casual so that the senior feels relaxed, but structure is key in ensuring a smooth activity and the most meaningful interactions.

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Intergenerational Programs

Intergenerational programs facilitate visits from younger visitors to interact with senior residents. True intergenerational programs are, as Nancy Henkin of Temple University says, “not nice, but necessary.” This is an opportunity to create meaningful and fun interactions. The residents have the opportunity to be surrogate grandparents to local youngsters while children are able to learn from their elders. 

According to Senior Lifestyle, seniors who regularly volunteer with children burn 20% more calories per week, experienced fewer falls, were less reliant on canes, and performed better on memory tests than their peers.

 Depending the cognitive and mobility levels of your community, arts and crafts, reading activities, puzzles and games, or even lunch dates are just a few of the intergenerational activity possibilities. This is also an opportunity for youth to teach basic computer usage, bringing residents closer to their families through email, Skype, sending greeting cards and so much more. 

Show-and-Tell

Do you remember looking forward to “Show-and-Tell” day in your elementary school class? Now, after years and years of collecting keepsakes and memories, show-and-tell can be an opportunity for rich stories to emerge from your residents and for memories to resurface that haven’t been thought about for years.

Seniors are encouraged to choose an important belonging and share the story behind it to the group. Whether this is an old photograph, family heirloom, or a grandchild’s drawing, seniors have a chance to share something meaningful about their past. The seniors feel celebrated and honored. 

Celebrate Their Heritage

Celebrating the tangible and intangible aspects of your resident’s culture and ethnicity can add to the uniqueness of the seniors and strengthen the community as a whole. Activities that promote greater understanding of your differences while encouraging a conversation will help you learn about your community.

In addition to celebrating diverse holidays and serving ethnic foods, your community can honor the intangible aspects that have helped shape the seniors you serve today. This can be done through cultural speakers, music, cooking and art classes, or story sharing.

Volunteering Opportunities

Service to others is one of the most intrinsically fulfilling opportunities you can provide for your residents. Besides the innate reward of helping others, volunteering promotes good physical and mental health and helps seniors pursue their passions in retirement.

While they may not be able to physically lend a helping hand, they can do good within the walls of the community by making blankets for a charity, writing cards for a children’s hospital, packaging or sorting care boxes, and more. Immobility does not eliminate volunteering opportunities. Get creative, partner with a local charity, and bring in outside volunteers. In return, not only will your seniors feel good about themselves, you’ll be fostering a culture of compassion – not just for the residents, but for the local community and beyond.

 


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TSOLife (The Story of Life) focuses on preserving legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

Documenting Your Story, How To's and Tips, Memoir, Writing Your Memoir, Preserving Memories

Creating a Memory List: Great Tips to Start Your Memoir

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Writing about your life may sound easy… until you sit down with that blank piece of paper or computer screen in front of you and your mind goes blank.

Been there.

So, how do you get over this?  I suggest by creating a memory list! Trying to write your lifestories without a memory list is like driving on a dark road without headlights. When you turn on those lights, you can then stay in between the lines and on the road.

It is worth taking some time to create a list of events that have occurred during your life, and I know even that may sound overwhelming. Let’s begin with a few ground rules and make it fun:

Start thinking about the major events from your past. When you married; had a child; went to college; graduated high school; visited your grandparents in the summer; moved to another state… On and on it will go!! Once you open that part of your brain where the memories are stored, they will just flow onto the paper. (Some of you may find that typing in a word processor works for you just as well as writing on paper. YOUR CHOICE. Later, in a future post, we will talk more about how different writing methods can elicit different results in our perspective on a life event.)

We are trying to create a list of random thoughts and recollections - hundreds of brief statements. This may take you a few days, to a week and maybe even several months. I recommend creating this list in a way that you can add to it as time goes on.

Some folks like to use a 3-ring binder where you can shift the pages around and increase the pages easily. Of course, if you are typing on a word processor, there is always, “cut and paste!”. Don’t worry about repeating yourself as you write, as that can be a clue to something on your mind that needs to be explored.

I suggest you start this way: mull and ponder a little! As the memories come, jot them down and write whatever comes to mind. Release that inner censor that tells you, “that word is not spelled right”, “it’s not a full sentence”, etc. Let the thoughts drift from your brain.

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Have you heard of free writing? Don’t lift your hands from the paper, just keep going! Sometimes, you will remember dates, names, places, and other obscure memories - but not the details, just yet! It’s OK to write in fragments and short bursts of thoughts. Think of an old-fashioned water pump: one must pump that handle until the water starts to flow, and when it does, it just gushes out! Don’t punctuate, spell check, try to create a sentence or even a paragraph. Keep your list where you can access it easily and add to it until you have several pages.

Once you have those many pages of memories written, let’s get them organized! Read through your list and choose 5 to 10 core events that you want to write about first. It’s important to consider what you think changed your life’s direction, what lesson you may have learned, who and why were the most important people, places or things that made you who you are today. These core events are where you begin. Now you may write a sentence and get that spelling right!!

Your stories are there waiting to be told. Your task is to let them emerge from the depths of your memory. (Quote borrowed from Turning Memories Into Memoirs, A Handbook for Writing Lifestories, by Denis Ledoux)

Next time we will discuss how to expand those sentences and begin to write your lifestories by using your senses!

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife focuses on creating innovative ways to preserve legacy and pass down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

Funeral Home, How To's and Tips

Is Content Marketing Right for Your Funeral Home?


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In short, yes. Content marketing is profitable, if you're doing it right.

But frankly, if you’re creating content for search engine optimization (SEO), you’re wasting your time. Potential customers will not find your funeral home’s website through generic blog posts titled What to Say at a Funeral or topics on traditional Malaysian cremation practices. These keywords are searched on Google, but the chances of them being typed by a potential customer in your area are slim to none.

However, that’s not to say that you should scratch your social media efforts and stop writing blogs altogether. Having a content marketing strategy based on the unique needs, issues, and perspectives of the ideal customers will give your funeral home brand recognition and set you apart from the competitors.

When it comes to content marketing, we think the funeral home industry could learn a thing or two. Keep reading to find out what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what you can do to maximize your results.


What is content marketing?

According to Hubspot, content marketing is a marketing strategy that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience. Marketers utilize social media networks, blogs, and other media types like Ebooks, case studies, webinars, and podcasts to put material in front of potential and existing customers. According to Kissmetrics, 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. It seems that everyone is doing it. Then why are funeral homes struggling to create effective content marketing? 

Web-based content marketing allows you to reach customers across the globe. However, for a funeral service, this is not necessarily an advantage when you're offering a service that is only applicable to customers who live in the area. For example, say you wrote a blog post titled "What to Say at a Funeral", and it had incredible SEO (search engine optimization). However, your funeral home is located in Florida, and your audience is the entire Internet community searching those keywords on Google. Your time and resources are wasted on writing that blog when your goal is to convert readers to customers, and the majority of your readers are not in a 30 mile radius of your funeral home. 

This example illustrates the common misuse of content marketing. To address this, it is important to distinguish the difference between content developed for potential customers and existing customers. 

Remember that all content you create should be original. Search engines reward content that is unique and catered towards a specific search. Creating good content takes time, and you'll benefit from making this a priority. Don't simply go through the motions.

According to Hubspot, content marketing is a marketing strategy that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience. Marketers utilize social media networks, blogs, and other media types like Ebooks, case studies, webinars, and podcasts to put material in front of potential and existing customers. According to Kissmetrics, 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. It seems that everyone is doing it. Then why are funeral homes struggling to create effective content marketing? Is this even the right approach for a funeral home?

What you’re doing right.

Families who are familiar with your funeral home look to you for support and answers along every step of the funeral process, from pre-planning to dealing with grief months after the service.

If you don’t already, make sure your funeral home has a FAQ on your website and pages on grief support, funeral terminology, types of services, tips on creative services, and more community resource. When building this content, ask yourself, "How can my customers maximize their investment?". Additionally, your blog posts compliment these pages. For example, the Grief Support page can incorporate inbound links to related blog articles you’ve written, like How to Help a Grieving Friend. This is great for the stage of customers who are already on your web page, but writing blog posts should not be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. The aforementioned resources will affirm your expertise, help you qualify prospects, and finally help make the sale but will not bring prospects to your site.

What you’re doing wrong.

Generic blog posts. Remember that all content you create should be original. Search engines reward content that is unique and catered towards a specific search. Creating good content takes time, and you'll benefit from making this a priority. Don't simply go through the motions.

Thinking that your blog is going to show up on the first page of Google. It most likely won’t, unless your content is extremely unique to the keywords being search. Don’t get too disappointed when your post is not ranking as highly as you thought it would on Google’s search results. The people searching for “inspiring quotes to guide you through grieving” are probably not your customers anyways.

Paying thousands of dollars to a third party to write your blog posts. Your money is better suited somewhere else where you can actually convert leads. In the next section we’ll dive deeper into where your resources will actually pay off.

What you can do to maximize results.

How do your offerings and expertise set you apart from competition? What makes your funeral home the best? In today’s competitive marketplace, it is essential to implement marketing that makes your firm the first to come to mind when a death occurs and families need to act fast.

Market yourself as the go-to resource in your community on all things funeral related. If families have benefited from your expertise services on death education, pre-planning, and grief support, they'll be more likely to recommend you to others. Peer recommendations carry significant weight in today's customer. Additionally, they’ll return when they know you are the best funeral home in the area. There's no need to explore other firms when you've proven yourself as the best funeral home in the area. This concept goes back to my previous point that content marketing will help you make the sale but will not get enough SEO to rank for generic keywords.

Now, in regards to getting potential customers on your page, you need to focus on solving your prospects’ needs. Why do your customers care about the content you're publishing? To do this, develop content that will get your brand name in front of your community. 

  • Hire a video company to create a virtual tour of your home. If you were looking for a wedding photographer, you’d want to see examples of their photos, not read a blog title 10 Best Most Flattering Wedding Poses. Similarly, when shopping-around for funeral homes, it’d be a critical asset to the families to be able to actually watch a short video showing off your space. Use the money you would spend on an inbound marketing company for a service that actually brings value to your customers.
  • Hire a professional to film your staff and interview the funeral director. Let your potential customers meet your friendly and professional team before they make that first line of contact.
  • Write a newsletter. A monthly newsletter gets your message directly to the community. This is especially applicable to your existing and previous customers. If they're already using your services, they've most likely given you permission to email them. Do you do any outreach programs or facilitate group grief support activities? Advertising these events in a newsletter is content marketing that proves that your firm is more than just a funeral home - you're an ally along the journey during this challenging time. 
  • Partner with community groups and businesses in your area and align your services with theirs. For example, partner with a personal documentary service and incorporate them into your pre-plan packages. Then you'll be adding value to your funeral home and will be able to use these inspirational videos as content marketing pieces on social media.

Reevaluate Your Strategy.

Being able to adapt your content marketing strategy based on the unique needs, issues, and perspectives of your potential and existing customers will help you attract the ideal customers and build trust with your existing customers. Be the expert on all things grief and design your content as support tool for every step of the process. 

Ask yourself, why would my clients read this? What need does this serve? Will my potential customers be able to find this content? Remember, designing successful content is challenging. So, put in the time, do your research, and remember, no one knows your service and customers as well as you do.

At the end of the day, content marketing for SEO is not going to get leads in the funnel. A blog does not build your relationship with potential customers, but the fact that you’ve been in the market for 80 years is what adds value to your funeral home. Market yourself on what will stand out to the customer. Is maximizing your SEO the best use of your resources? For most of you, probably not.

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife provides innovative solutions that go above and beyond to give clients the memorials they deserve. Include TSOLife's documentary service as part of your pre-need packages and set your funeral home apart from the rest. It is time to celebrate a life well-lived in a way that is engaging for the whole family. 

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How To's and Tips, Funeral Home

What to Wear to a Funeral


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Deciding what to wear to a funeral almost seems obvious, but wearing black is becoming outdated as more and more mourning services are being replaced by celebrations-of-life services. Figuring out what to wear to a funeral can be confusing, especially when your outfit is the last thing on your mind in the midst of your grieving. 

Have you ever wondered...

Why do people wear black to funerals? Wearing black has been a long-accepted tradition intended to show respect to the deceased and the family. Where did the association of black mourning clothing come from? In fact, this tradition can be traced back to the Roman Empire when the family of the deceased would wear a dark-colored toga called a toga pulla. This tradition spread to Europe during medieval times when widows wore black caps and veils to convey their mourning.

Do all cultures wear black to funerals? In other parts of medieval Europe like Spain and France, widows in their deepest mourning wore white. White is also traditionally worn in India and China. However, at a Chinese funeral service, if someone is older then 80, red is acceptable. Further, in Myanmar, yellow is acceptable, and in Iranian culture, mourners traditionally wear blue or purple.

As you can see, dressing for a funeral is not "black and white" when you take into consideration the venue, the family, and the culture - making us ask the question: what do I wear to a funeral?

Here are some general tips to help you dress for a funeral, memorial service, visitation, wake, or graveside service.

  • Choose a color. The inclination is to choose something black, but a gray, navy, or other understated colors is also appropriate in most situations. It should not be something that will stand out, as you should aim at clean, subdued color clothing. If color is specified or it's an entirely non-traditional ceremony, don't worry about dressing in dark colors.
  • Think classic. Dress appropriately and conservatively, especially if the service is in a place of worship. Keep in mind the guests that will be attending, and if they would find your clothing inappropriate, you should probably change. It is sometimes helpful to dress business professional - skirts, trousers, suits. 

Some further tips to add:

  • Are you a member of the immediate family? If so, keep in mind that you will be setting the dress code for the rest of the guests.
  • If you're outside and it's a summer day in Florida, you are most likely not expected to wear a full suit. 
  • A pre-planned funeral service may include instructions for attendees attires. 
  • Occasionally, the family will request that guests wear their loved one’s favorite color, sports team jersey, or something else that might have been meaningful to the person who passed away. They will usually note this in the service announcement.

Hopefully this post has helped you when deciding what to wear to a funeral service. At the end of the day, your presence is what truly matters. This is not a time for people to be judgmental, so unless you're wearing ripped jeans and a sweatshirt, you're probably OK. You can now have the peace of mind to be able to focus on grieving - and celebrating the life - of your loved one.

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife is a Florida based company that focuses on creating new and innovative ways to preserve legacies and pass down life stories for future generations. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down life stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!


 

Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Family History, Storytelling

Is Social Media Making Us Narcissistic?

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Social media tempts us to live in an attention seeking society and it seems that everyone is on board with it. The usage statistics of these cites are astounding. Every day, on average, 60 million photos are uploaded to Instagram. More than 20% of the world's population publishes details of their lives on Facebook, creating over 3.2 billion likes and comments every day.

To many, this might not come as a surprise. If you're reading this, you most likely came across it through social media. We've joined Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn , Facebook and all the rest and are fascinated, not looking away, even when we're having a face-to-face conversation. It's never been easier to see what your friends are up to, stay in contact with people, and, most noticeably, become a publicity-seeking narcissist. The constant desire to display our lives to the public, searching for this approval from others, has influenced a culture of vanity and self-endorsement.

But, is this really what our society has come to? For many, social networks are to blame for their narcissism, but others just need to find a balance before teetering on the edge.

I'd like to think that social media hasn't shaped an entirely egotistical existence. These platforms have opened up creative outlets, given a voice to the ignored, fostered relationships, assisted in a job searches, introduced us to new ideas and concepts, built time capsules for users, created a platform for documenting our life stories... The list could go on.

However, what happened that transformed our use of social media from casually checking our accounts into habitually surfing and refreshing for notifications? It's imperative to find a balance and prevent the dark side of social media from shadowing the positives. There are several good habits you can practice that will help you resist the urge from constantly checking your phone or computer:

1. Schedule "me" time. It's important to have time to yourself, but with hectic schedules, we're often moving from one thing to the next. Instead of using any free opportunity to check your social networks, do something that betters yourself first. Go for a walk, write a letter, read, call your grandparents, stretch, or simply sit quietly by yourself.

2. Get into the habit of not checking your phone for the first hour of your day. For many of us, it's first instinct to look at our notifications as soon as we get up. Instead, practice mindfulness and resist the urge. Start your day off on a positive note. Ensuring you begin your day quietly with minimal outside distractions can have a positive influence on the rest of your day.

3. Avoid distractions. When working or studying, exercise restraint from looking at your notifications. This can lead to unintentional time lost. If you have a strong desire to constantly check your social media, look at it on the hour as a reward for a distraction-free 60 minutes of work.

4. Don't compare yourself with others. You are simply viewing a certain aspect of someone's life, and everyone posts only their best photos or the exciting aspects of their lives. Be happy for their accomplishments, and understand that the people your viewing also face trials and tribulations.

5. Don't worry about being approved. Some people rely on social media for their self-confidence. Refuse to constantly check to see who's liked your post, waiting to feel validated. Feel happy and approving of yourself and don't give that control to others. Instill a healthy sense of esteem offline before logging on.

6. Give quality time to others first. The real relationships in your life are the most valuable. Establish a rule with your friends to collect everyone's phones when you're out to eat or instill in your children that phones at the dinner table are unacceptable. Giving attention to your friends and family when they're with you will be the memories you'll cherish in the future.

Only by being less self-obsessed and placing more value on personal relating can we impart these values to the next generation. A healthy balance of social media can be formed where the threat of becoming narcissistic is inexistent. Everything in moderation. And avoid announcing to social media your attempts to reduce your social media usage.

 

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ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories, Family Tree

Preserving Memories

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Have you ever looked back on a photograph and immediately felt the sense of nostalgia? As if looking at that image brought you back to that exact moment in time? Memories are an important part of all of our lives. However, capturing the experience while also being in the moment can be a challenging task.

We are constantly hearing the expression "live in the moment", but we often use this phrase as an excuse to disregard the future. Many justify their impulsive actions  with this in order to assume no responsibility for the future. However, on the contrary, living in the moment is an expression to remind us that life unfolds in the present and that we should undertake our thoughts in awareness - not a rationalization to living recklessly.  Ironically, living in the moment can help you preserve memories for the future. Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. Living in the moment is a paradox, because when we are focusing on the present, this will contribute to a happier future.

In Psychology Today's article, "The Art of Now" it writes:

"In her memoir Eat, Pray, LoveElizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' 'It takes all my persuasive powers,' writes Gilbert, 'to try to convince her that she is already here.'"

I'm sure we have all observed or personally experienced similar situations. If you have recently visited any tourist attraction, most individuals are affixed to their cell phones or cameras, neglecting to sit back and enjoy the view. However, it is difficult to not do so, especially when that photograph will be a cherished item many years from now.

Just as often as being too distracted by our cameras, I'm certain that we've also experienced the opposite, forgetting to document that special moment with a deceased loved one or of a once in a lifetime trip. Your children will never look as precious as they did in their matching holiday pajamas last Christmas. Your time in college flies by, and being able to look back on photographs of your first day of class or the time that maybe you shouldn't have done the keg stand at alumni weekend, will bring you back to the carefree memories of your youth. Will this be the last Mother's Day being able to celebrate your mother in person? Those moments are unrecoverable and the sentimentality of those photographs will hold true for many years to come.

Thus, the question arrises, how do we navigate the precarious balance between living in the moment and preserving the memory? Below are ten tips on preserving the memory while still being able to enjoy the occasion.

1. Don't stress about capturing the perfect photo. Take enough pictures to jog your memory. The meaning behind the photograph is more important then having an image worthy of National Geographic.

2. If you're at a wedding, take a few photographs of your own, but let the hired, professional photographer do his job to capture the details while you enjoy the day with friends and family.

3. Keep a journal. And write in it every night. In a few years, or even months, having that first person narrative of all the details will be just as special as a photograph.

4. Print, frame, and hang your photographs around your home. Too often we only store our photographs on our computers and forget about them. When we are able to view them everyday, the sentiment will bring happiness to our daily routines.

5. Use digital photo sharing websites like Flickr or Smugmug to safely store and share photographs with friends and family. Give Grandma and Grandpa the link to access these photos, keeping them updated on your child's big moments.

6. Similarly, make a Snapfish or Shutterfly book that collects the pictures from special event or vacation . These photo books make great gifts or coffee table books.

7. When experiencing a trip or event with others, have everyone share their photos in a  Facebook message. This way, if you forget your camera for an event or miss a special moment, you'll be able to look back on your friends' photos.

8. Make home videos. Gathering family and friends around the television to watch old home videos is something that the next generation will not have the privilege of doing. With video cameras becoming out of fashion, take the initiative to record video on your cell phone. Remember to frequently transfer the video to your computer as film requires a substantial amount of storage.

9. Take advantage of your cell phone to capture the memory, but ensure you're not getting distracted by texting or surfing the web.

10. At a special event, designate a friend who the event does not directly involve to take the photographs. This allows you to enjoy your child's baptism or birthday party and still have the photographs to reminisce at.

So next time you're cherishing a special moment, remember to document it while still living in the moment. As Ferris Bueller once said:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

ABOUT TSOLIFE

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The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Storytelling

Ancestry and Genealogy Research Resources

Unlimited genealogy research resources exist in the world. Fortunately, many of these resources are now available online. These days anyone can take an interest in genealogy without having to spend hours digging through libraries and archives and paying for photocopies. Online resources have changed the genealogy research world; however, navigating all the online resources can be an adventure.

“How do I know where to start?”

“What websites have the information I am looking for?”

The research process involves experimenting with different resources. Not one website works for absolutely everyone, because the sites pull from varying databases and collections. The documents these resources offer add value to your life story and your family history. As mentioned in our previous blog post, these documents add a sense of legitimacy to your life story. Here are some popular places to start your ancestry research and find these supplementary documents:

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is free for anyone to use. It is one of the biggest genealogy websites in the world with billions of online resources and additional physical locations with volunteers to help you in your family history research. FamilySearch connects you to other online genealogy searches increasing the amount of information available to you.

Ancestry

Ancestry.com works like a search engine by digging through databases and collections to find documents. This method has allowed Ancestry to collect billions of records from census reports to images to articles to the most extensive collection of immigration records. These documents can allow you to map your family history throughout the years. Ancestry.com is a subscription service and can cost more than its competitors. Ancestry’s extensive databases and additional services, for some people, may make it worth the price.

MyHeritage

MyHeritage is a fantastic genealogy search engine allowing you to search through billions of documents from around the world. The site serves as a community that allows you to connect with genealogists and better understand your family history. MyHeritage emphasizes that family history is for the family. They offer ways to get everyone involved with genealogy by providing games for kids and an easy-to-share family tree. Unfortunately, MyHeritage does not have Native American resources available. The site is easy to navigate and offers great features, such as DNA testing, a family tree builder, and a custom chart designer. My Heritage is known as a reliable resource and an enjoyable experience for the whole family.

FindMyPast

FindMyPast is not as feature-rich as other sites, but it still serves as a valuable search engine with access to 1.6 billion records from English-speaking countries around the world. The site does offer an easy-to-use family tree builder. FindMypast does not offer much support besides research articles and the FAQ section.

Archives

Archives has access to 4.6 billion records of varying types, including immigration documents, yearbooks, adoption records, and newspapers dating back to the 1700s. Archives is a great resource for rare and interesting citations and records on your U.S. or U.K. roots. If you have roots in the U.S. from 1790 to 1930, you can find U.S. Census records for your family. However, if you have family outside of these countries, you will not be able to find data about them.

GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank is a search engine for finding newspaper articles focused in the United States dating back to the 1690s. You can find records such as obituaries, marriages, community events and arrests in newspapers, making them useful in learning about your ancestors and the environment they lived in. GenealogyBank also collects local histories, funeral sermons, biographies, directories and other books allowing you to find more than just the usual standard birth, marriage, or death certificate.

The Genealogical Research Library

The Genealogical Research Library has a more global focus compared to other sites. The database is organized by geographic location, so it is easy to begin researching the places important in your family’s history. It does not have extra features like many of the other sites offer. However, it does offer some unique resources such as antique maps, historical books, and a collection of family trees. It is not a comprehensive site, but it is a great starting place to begin your research.

DNA Testing Options

Many companies offer DNA testing services so that you can truly find your roots! Ancestry.com offers DNA testing for $99. You do not have to have an Ancestry subscription to purchase the DNA kit. MyHeritage is now offering DNA testing for $79. 23andMe offers two packages for their DNA testing services, one priced at $99 and the other priced at $199.

Honest Products Review provides a review of the 5 best DNA kits here. Take a look if you're exploring these options.

 

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Source: 23andMe

 

There is an overwhelming amount of information on the internet. These databases are a great place to start. It can be difficult to know which services will be of the most value to you. Researching your family history will take some time, but the knowledge gained will be immensely rewarding.

Check out how these sites rank on TopTenReviews.

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Ancestry, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Storytelling, Family History, Preserving Memories

How Do I Make My Life Story Stand Out?

You spent hours. Many of these hours were spent wadding up papers or exercising the backspace on your keyboard. Despite these setbacks, the duration of these hours have led you to where you are now. You sit there staring at your creation. Your life story lies before you, in whichever form it may take. You exhale, and in the process, relax the furrowed lines of your forehead developed while deciding what events and memories were worthy of inclusion in this narrative. You inhale, empowered and exhilarated because of what you have just accomplished. It is not finished, of course. What life story ever is? But, you have found that stopping point where you can stop writing and move on to the next step, which is what exactly?

You wrote your life story. Now it is time for someone to read it. This reader may be a family member or someone you have never met. That decision is up to you.  It is one thing to write a story, but making a story interesting and engaging is a whole other ball game. How do you interest people in reading it? You may have heard the adage, “Build it and they will come.” As many of us learn in life, this saying does not always represent the truth. When it comes to writing and sharing your life story, more effort is involved than that of “Write it and they will come.” As a writer, you are tasked with keeping the reader interested while still staying true to yourself. So how, as a writer, do you make your life story stand out? Fortunately, there are many ways to create a dynamic and interesting life story without using excessively flowery writing or including exaggerated details.

THE NEXT STEP

Welcome to Step 2 of the writing process! It is time to add photos, audio files, videos, supporting documents, and a new perspective to bring your life story to a whole new level.

PHOTOS

Photos are a sure way to bring some excitement to your life story. Photos are useful in engaging those with short attention spans who are turned away by lengthy blocks of text. They are memorable and interactive.  People say a picture is worth a thousand words, however photos are even more powerful when combined with text than when they stand alone. When adding photos, it is important to document who was there and what their names are. Do not force future generations into playing the “Guess who is in this photo?” game, because you did not write a caption or label the photo. You can describe how happy you were on your wedding day. However, for a reader to feel that they were there, they need to see it. Add a photo to your story from your wedding day, so that they can see for themselves the contentment and excitement in your smile.

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AUDIO

Record yourself telling your story, and add the audio files to your story. We understand how much value the spoken word holds. When recording your audio, tell the story. Do not just read the script. Let those reading and listening hear the inflections and tone of your voice. Let them hear your voice crack with emotion or increase pitch with excitement. Adding emotion will bring your story to life. The experience of listening while reading a story is much more dynamic than that of just reading the text alone. Generations from now, your family members will be grateful that they can listen to the voice of their great-great-great grandmother or grandfather.

VIDEO

We live in the digital age, so people commonly film important moments in their life. It is easy to capture even the smallest moments because of how widespread smartphones are. If you have the videos, add them. Do it. Videos are just fun, and are a sure way to drive engagement. They have the ability to influence the reader’s mindset and emotions while they read the story leading to more interest and involvement. It is fulfilling to watch a video snippet, see a moment as it unfolds, and then read the story about the events leading up to that moment and those that followed afterward. The addition of videos creates a very holistic storytelling experience that inspires the writer and the readers.

DOCUMENTS

Many stories can be supported with documents above and beyond photos and videos. Newspaper articles, birth certificates, artwork, scans of handwritten letters, diplomas, and census information add legitimacy to your stories. You may have some of these items laying around. Many of these items, however, may not be as easy to find and can require some research. Fortunately, many resources exist to assist in the search. A few of the more popular options include Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage.

PERSPECTIVE

Show your life story from a different perspective to keep people interested. Fortunately, TSOLife offers multiple ways to make that happen. The map view allows your life to be viewed from a global perspective and highlights your footprint on the world. Readers will immediately be able to see where you have traveled. Readers can also view your story on a vertical or horizontal timeline which offers them a chronological walk through of your life. These different viewing options allows your life story to interest a diverse group of readers.

By utilizing what resources you already have available to you, you can truly make your life story stand out. No matter who is reading it, whether it be family members, friends, or people you have never met, they will enjoy the exciting storytelling experience you are offering them. Even if you are writing for yourself as a way to reflect on your life, combining your written words with other aspects facilitates a more investigative and holistic experience. Pages of lines of text, tedious and not visually appealing, are a poor representation of the beauty and struggle in life—in your life. You have so much more to offer, so let your story shine.

Next week look forward to more information about resources available to find public documents and genealogical records.

 

Check out how photos and an audio recording bring this story to life.

Find supporting documents at Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage

Check out these new perspectives on a life story: map view, vertical timeline, and horizontal timeline. To learn more, read How to Write a Good Life Story.

 

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days