Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Questions to Trigger Memories

One of the struggles Boo, like many who've had strokes or who are in the early stages of dementia, has is verbalizing what he remembers.  Usually once I ask Boo a leading question and then a follow up question that builds on the information he shared, Boo is well on his way to sharing a memory. 

This is also a wonderful, stress free way to encourage conversational skills.  Your elder generally remembers the past with little problem.  S/he doesn't need to be concerned about what day of the week it is or who the current president is.  S/he doesn't even need to remember who you are.  All they need to concentrate on is telling what they remember.  Many times, being encouraged to share memories triggers a renewed interest in connecting with people...which in turn encourages spontaneous conversations.

Here are a list of questions that I've used at various times to encourage Boo and others to communicate.

  1. What stories did your parents tell you about how they met each other and about their courtship?
  2. How did you celebrate Christmas when you were a child? What did you usually find in your stocking?
  3. Tell me about the war stories in your family. Did your grandfather fight in the Civil War? Your father or uncles in one of the World Wars or Korea? You or your siblings in Vietnam?
  4. What was your favorite meal as a youngster? Who made it and how often?
  5. Tell me about your first job? How old were you? Who hired you? What did you do? How much were you paid?
  6. Who was your best friend when you were growing up? What did the two of you like to do? Did the two of you ever get in trouble together?
  7. Did your parents teach you to hunt, fish, sew, cook? Tell me about the first fish you caught or the first meal you cooked?
  8. Where did you live growing up? Did you move? If so, why? Where did your parents and grandparents live?
  9. Did you have a pet when you were a child? If so, what pet did you have? What was your pet's name? Did you teach it to do any tricks? Were you responsible for your pet's care?
  10. Do you remember the first night you spent away from home? How old were you? Tell me about it.
Enjoy the conversations you have with your elder!  Make memories to cherish in the coming years!


  1. I bet some beautiful responses will emerge from these questions. I wish I had more time to ask my grandmother these questions, but she died last August from the disease. It it such a hard thing to walk through with someone. Your post give such encouragement and meaning to living life as it slowly fades away from one we love. I posted after you in Titus 2uesdays