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.
- What stories did your parents tell you about how they met each other and about their courtship?
- How did you celebrate Christmas when you were a child? What did you usually find in your stocking?
- 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?
- What was your favorite meal as a youngster? Who made it and how often?
- Tell me about your first job? How old were you? Who hired you? What did you do? How much were you paid?
- 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?
- Did your parents teach you to hunt, fish, sew, cook? Tell me about the first fish you caught or the first meal you cooked?
- Where did you live growing up? Did you move? If so, why? Where did your parents and grandparents live?
- 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?
- 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!