Some people have a natural talent for conversation. They can speak with anyone about anything and keep a pleasant exchange going with seemingly no effort at all. What a gift! Unfortunately, most of us aren’t so able. Starting a conversation can be challenging, especially with elderly friends or family members.
Taking a moment to engage in meaningful conversation with a senior citizen benefits everyone involved. The opportunity to share stories, be heard, and feel valued has a positive impact on seniors who can often feel lonely and isolated. But every conversation is a two-way street, and taking the opportunity to speak with an elderly person can be an enriching experience一one that leaves you feeling more appreciative for the courage and sense of humor that helped past generations survive hard times.
Finding conversation starters for elderly friends may be easier than we imagine if we remember that everyone一no matter how old一was once a young person full of hopes and dreams.
6 Questions to Use as Conversation Starters for Elderly Friends and Family
Who Is This?
There’s no better way to start a conversation than by looking through old photographs. Whether it is personal family photos or stock images from the person’s era, asking about the people and events captured in the photos will encourage all types of conversation. Once your elderly friend begins reminiscing, use follow-up questions to help keep the conversation going. Examples include:
- Who were your closest childhood friends?
- Do you remember any fashion trends from that time that you liked or didn’t like?
- What was your favorite subject in school?
- What were your parents like?
- What historical moment do you remember most vividly?
Be prepared to learn about secret family history, the elder’s participation in historical events, or personal stories you were not previously aware of.
What Are (or Were) Your Hobbies?
They might have slowed down in the past few years, but almost every older person once enjoyed some type of hobby or activity. You may learn that your grandmother is an accomplished seamstress or that Uncle David was once a swimmer who strove for Olympic gold. Urging seniors to talk about their interests may even spark new passions. If it does, great! Make the effort to help them connect with clubs or organizations they are interested in. Strengthening social circles is an important way to help seniors combat depression and stay mentally sharp.
What Was Your Favorite…?
No list of conversation starters for elderly friends would be complete without a discussion about favorites! Ask any person about their most cherished genre of music, book, food, movie, place, or memory, and get ready for a lively discussion.
Whom Do You Admire?
Not everyone is comfortable talking about their own lives, or they may feel they don’t have much that is interesting to share. In this case, a conversation starter that focuses on other people can be helpful. Ask your elderly friend about their childhood heroes and the people who inspired them throughout their life (and perhaps still do today)!
What Is One Piece of Advice You’d Like to Share?
This type of question shows your elderly companion that you value their opinion. Even this simple affirmation of worth can encourage a shy or reserved person to open up. If your conversation partner is a beloved family member, feel free to make the question more personal. Ask, “What is something you’ve always wanted to tell me?” or, “What do you want me to remember most about you?”
What Would You Change About the World Today?
Let’s face it, every generation throughout every era has had an opinion on what “those kids today” are doing wrong. Your senior friend is no exception. Ask them about their views on the many ways society has changed since they were young. What is their opinion of today’s technology or modern families? You may be surprised by the answers.
The Value of Conversation
Well-timed conversation starters for elderly friends and family can offer you a wealth of historical and family information. They can also help you connect personally with people you once thought of as difficult or old-fashioned in their views or thinking. You never know what you will learn or how your life will be enriched when you make time for a meaningful conversation with a senior.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.