Asking questions can spark a meaningful conversation full of special memories. Someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias will particularly appreciate the opportunity to pass on personal history and wisdom before it’s too late.
When you begin a conversation, prompt the person with dementia to elaborate by asking open-ended questions and then listen patiently. Here are some questions you might ask:
- What chores did you have to do when you were growing up?
- When you were a teenager, what did you and your friends do for fun?
- What are some of the most valuable things you learned from your parents?
- What did your grandparents and great grandparents do for a living?
- When you were growing up, what did you dream you would do with your life?
- What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of?
- What are some of the things you are most grateful for?
- What was the happiest moment of your life?
- How would you like to be remembered?
You can use these questions as conversation starters at mealtimes, while completing daily activities together, or at a family gathering. Work up to the deeper questions like “How would you like to be remembered?” and follow up with related questions to keep the conversation going. If your family member with dementia gets confused, frustrated or upset by your questions, change the subject. You can always rephrase the question and try asking it again at another time.
By asking good questions, you’re inviting your family member with dementia to share important life experiences that you can continue to remember and cherish even when that person no longer can. You’ll not only enrich your loved one’s life during the moments those memories are shared, but you’ll be able to preserve the memories until it’s time to pass them along to the next generation.
Go to the helpforalzheimersfamilies.com website for more ideas.
You need to know there is support for you and your loved one. Your local Home Instead Senior Care office can help. Our unique CAREGiver training approach for Alzheimer’s or other Dementias is part of our CARE program, Changing Aging Through Research and Education. Trained Home Instead CAREGivers support families in their caregiving role. For more information about Home Instead Senior Care visit www.homeinstead.com/greaterpittsburgh or call 1-866-996-1087.