Memories come alive as seniors trace family roots

For residents of the Carinity Shalom aged care community in Rockhampton researching their family tree is bearing fruit.

The seniors are turning back the clock to remember their youth through Shalom’s family heritage project.

Carinity Shalom Activities Officer Donna Hinchliffe says the activity was devised as a celebration of family and home that is helping residents to recall old life memories.

“We want to know where our residents have come from because it’s a diverse society we live in. All of us have come from somewhere,” Donna says.

“It gives the residents a focal point to talk about and have conversations about and it brings up interesting memories for them. These positive reminiscences are helping residents’ wellbeing and their general cognitive functions.”

Researching her family heritage has resulted in 90-year-old Swiss expatriate Rosmarie Von Allmen recalling happy memories of growing up in her small home town Menziken.

“Rosmarie often tells the story of her mother whose job it was to check on all the women in the town to make sure they were working. If they weren’t working, she had to report to the government,” Donna says.

“She remembers the church bells rang twice a day and the other day she had apple juice for breakfast, which prompted her to talk about her family having 250 bottles of apple cider in their cellar.

“We showed her photos of buildings in her home town which she remembers, including the church in which she was Baptised, and showed her the town’s coat of arms which she recognised as ‘the Menziken man’.”

Early research has found that Carinity Shalom residents originate from countries such as England, Poland, Ireland, Switzerland and Scotland.

“It is a project that will probably run until almost Christmas because it takes a while to gather all this information and with the families digging up photos and family trees,” Donna says.

The Carinity Shalom family heritage project will culminate in a celebration of multiculturalism including an international food banquet.

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