If you spent time over the holidays with elderly relatives or friends, you may have heard many of the same stories you’d heard over the years. Repeated storytelling can sometimes be unnerving for friends and families, raising concerns about a loved one’s potential cognitive decline. But there is another way to think about repeated storytelling that makes it easier to listen and engage with the stories.

Today, in The Conversation Canada, Mary Ann McColl from Queen’s University discusses the stories elderly people tell and offers tips to help us listen to and record them. Storytelling is a way for older people to transfer values and memories to younger generations. As McColl writes, “Telling stories repeatedly isn’t about forgetfulness or dementia. It’s an effort to share what’s important.”

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Ibrahim Daair

Culture + Society Editor

People don’t necessarily tell the same stories over and over again because they’re losing cognitive function, but because the stories are important, and they feel we need to know them. (Shutterstock)

Storytelling allows elders to transfer values and meaning to younger generations

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Repeated storytelling from elderly relatives doesn’t necessarily always signal age or cognitive decline. It’s about conveying memories and values to a new generation.

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