The emergence of texting as the primary means of communication in society today has really left a lot on the table when it comes to conversations between people, and even more so with our senior citizen friends and relatives. The challenges of understanding the technology, small buttons and arthritic fingers and knuckles… it all really hampers them from being as active as others within that means of communication. This is sad, because there is an enormous wealth of history and wonderful storytelling that we’re missing out on by not talking with those seniors…our grandparents and great-grandparents…who lived through some of the most historic events and technological advancements in the last 100 years. They’ve learned and lived life by talking, not typing. They wrote letters, not typed texts. They connect through conversation, through hearing your voice and using theirs…they need that to feel an emotional connection and to thrive.
Many senior companions say that getting the chance to speak one-on-one with their senior residents and clients is the highlight of their day. Making time to connect through conversation can be one of the most rewarding and healthy things you can do, especially for older adults. Studies have shown that older adults who maintain social relationships have better overall physical and mental health and a more positive outlook on life.
Some people may find talking with seniors somewhat intimidating, thinking they may not have anything in common to talk about. But the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. You just need a good icebreaking question or two, and you’ll be on the way to getting a great history lesson you’ll be telling your friends and family about, even, and especially, after they’re gone. Wisdom comes with age and experience, and this is knowledge you’ll be sorry you missed out on. And all you have to do is ask! Seniors love to talk about their lives just like anyone else, and they’ll be happy you asked. Listen and absorb, then respond.
- Where were you born?
- What is the story behind your name?
- What was your first job?
- What did you do for fun when you were a child?
- What were your childhood favorite things? Food, movie, game, colors, sport?
- What are your views on the present?
- Do you have a favorite saying or expression?
- What was the coolest piece of technology when you were growing up?
- What is your favorite childhood memory?
- What is your most treasured possession?
- Tell me about your first pet…
- What was your favorite song when you were a teenager and why?
- Tell me about the first person you thought you were in love with…
- What is your life’s greatest accomplishment you’re most proud of?
A little curiosity can go a long way…if these questions don’t work for you, come up with asking whatever you don’t know about them but would like to. The bottom line is this: Sharing memories, telling stories and connecting with a senior on a personal level is very good for them. It makes them feel happier, healthier and included, and makes them think and feel important, which we all need. It all happens while giving you great insights into the past that can help you in your future. And it also gives you memories of them sharing their memories. You’re connecting in the way they know how to connect. Start the conversation.