3 Ways to Start a Conversation With an Older Person

Two seniors talking

Last week I had a post about Tips for Helping an Older Person Join a Conversation. Continuing conversations with a loved one is important, even though sometimes it may be one-sided. Conversations are not only intellectually stimulating, they increase social interactions, and help us stay connected to the world.

There are many ways to start a conversation. Today we’ll talk about three.

Reminiscing-Many people enjoy talking about the past. From childhood, to adulthood, to parenthood and beyond, our older generations have had many experiences. Reminiscing does not only benefit the person reliving the memory, but other family members will enjoy hearing stories as well. Here are some methods to reminisce:

*Looking at scrapbooks is a great way to talk about family, friends, events, and places. Photographs can be visual reminders of people, places, and things.

*Ask questions about the past. I have many posts on reminiscing including: Spring Reminiscing, Summer Reminiscing, Reminiscing with Mom, Reminiscing with Dad, Remembering in the Garden, Autumn Reminiscing, and Journaling to Remember. Questions sometimes snowball into other stories, so go with the flow if the conversation is going in a good direction.

*Not all older persons will be able to reminisce, especially those with dementia. Or you may find that a person might remember something long ago, but not something they did a day earlier or five minutes ago. Sometimes trying to remember something they cannot will cause frustration. If this is the case turn the conversation to something else.

Environment-Look at what is in your environment. Are you taking a walk with your loved  one?    Take a look around and notice the weather, the sky, the wildlife, plant life, people, etc. Talk about those things. If you are at their home, look around and talk about things such as photographs. If you are driving somewhere, notice the scenery and places on the way. The environment gives lots of cues in which to draw a conversation from. You will not only be living in the moment, but helping a loved one stay connected to the world around them.

Discuss topics of interest-Discussing things that a person loves or is interested in can be helpful. If a person loves gardening, you may talk about that and even walk through the garden. If a person loves cooking, consider looking at recipes and cooking up something. If golf is an interest, but a person can no longer golf, consider talking about golf, looking at a golf magazine, or consider putting a few golf balls in the yard or in the house (if possible). Talking about interests, hobbies, and favorite people and things, can be helpful when trying to start a conversation. If you don’t already know what those are, take the time to find out.

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