Seniors is one of my preferred audiences.

I am passionate about working with seniors for several reasons.

When my parents were going through their last years they lived in assisted living communities. Observing them and their peers I felt their desire to still be active, their hunger for any activity broadening their existence to outside of their walls. And I acutely felt that behind each of their aged facades is an exciting life story that needs to be uncorked and tended to. I wished I had more time to give attention both to my parents and to other elders. At least, I organized informal gatherings of seniors telling stories to each other.

I was also inspired by a story in Washington Post some years ago about a Georgetown University student who received an award for her community project: she used grant money to purchase virtual reality equipment and would offer it in senior centers to watch world travel videos - it was heartwarming to see happy smiles on the faces of seniors elated to be able to visit remote corners of the world. In my stories, I am taking them all over the world and entertain them with facts and historical anecdotes happening there.

For seniors, hearing a story and sharing a story is especially important for overcoming loneliness and finding community connection. I combine storytelling with visual presentation to keep the listeners interested. I use my stories as a starting point to engage them in conversation and telling stories of their own. A good story is just as valuable to the teller as to the listeners, especially if it is shared in warm conversation. Listening to the stories of others opens up new conversations and strengthen connections. In fact, reminiscing and storytelling have proven to be so powerful that some professionals who work with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients use reminiscence therapy. “Elders often become isolated from their identities as their memories begin to falter, and as the day-to-day issues of living overwhelm the past,” explains David Walsh of Hospice of Southwest Ohio. “Establishing a way to connect with long-ago memories can help re-tie that rope to familiarity.” In my presentations I tell my stories that came from different parts of the world to initiate their memories about their travels, curiosities they have encountered, and share them in a warm environment.