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Interesting Senior Conversation Starters and Icebreakers to Better Communicate With Them

Age is only a number, and talking to your loved one can be easier than you think. Learn some senior conversation starters to apply in your next talk.

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    Everyone needs to communicate. We understand, learn about, and enjoy the relationship more through conversations.

    With seniors, this is no exception. But living through different times and having mismatched mindsets make conversations more difficult. In addition, a lack of effort to connect and not having good conversation starters hinder you two from getting closer.

    However, just because there are decades between you and your granny doesn’t mean there should be an invisible barrier that sets you two apart. Age is only a number, and talking to your loved one can be easier than you think.

    Read on to learn some pleasant senior conversation starters to apply in your next chat with your elderly family members.


    Senior Conversation Starters to Make Talking More Enjoyable

    “How Has Your Day Been/What Are You Up to?”

    12Oaks-Senior woman and young caregiver drinking tea at table in cafe-as-12Oaks-Granddaughter having a cup of coffee with her grandmother in the kitchen.-as-How Has Your Day Been_What Are You Up to_

    Some people may try to get their relatives to talk frustratedly by asking irrelevant questions that don’t fit in any context. This way of approaching a senior conversation is always a no-go. Nobody wants or finds it enjoyable to answer a question that comes from nowhere and doesn’t seem very important.

    Instead, start with a simple question that is easy and shows that you care about them and want to open up a conversation. For example, a question about their day, like “How has your day been?” is a good starting point for whatever follows.


    “Is There Anything I Can Help You With Today?”

    12Oaks-Multi-generation family preparing food-as-Is There Anything I Can Help You With Today_

    Next, don’t just stop there asking about their day; instead, direct the conversation to another topic, like an offer for help. This way, your loved one will know that you’re not only having small talk but also taking the time you spend with them seriously.

    Of course, consider your offer for help as a genuine opportunity to give your older family member a hand in everyday tasks. You can extend the conversation through it and show that you care. However, please don’t keep asking the same question to offer help until they relent. Instead, be thoughtful by knowing what they need before they ask.


    “What Was the Best Book/Film You Ever Read/Watched?”

    12Oaks-Spending time with elder woman-as-What Was the Best Book_Film You Ever Read_Watched_

    One of the most effortless ways to maintain the conversation is by asking what your loved one thinks about the activity you and they are doing together. For example, if it’s reading time, ask them to tell you about their favorite book and how they like it.

    This smooth transition from carrying out an activity to discussing the relevant subject matter helps you avoid getting into an awkward situation where the question that is supposed to show you care kills the talk. But make sure that you know what you’re asking and are well-versed in the topic.


    “Did You Have Any Hobbies When You Were Younger?”

    12Oaks-Woman caring for plants-as-Did You Have Any Hobbies When You Were Younger_

    If you keep everyone talking until this stage, you’re doing everything right. But don’t put it to an end because you can do more than that. Instead, dig deeper into your parents’ or grandparents’ favorite things to do by showing your curiosity about their past leisure interests.

    This helps you understand more about your loved one and allows you to find out if you share any mutual interests or hobbies with them. And although it can be challenging to keep a conversation going when two people are so different, finding mutual interests will help close that gap. After seeing some common ground, communication will be much easier and more pleasurable.


    “What Was the Town Where You Grew Up Like?”

    12Oaks-Granddaughter having a cup of coffee with her grandmother in the kitchen.-as-What Was the Town Where You Grew Up Like_

    Even if your parents or grandparents grew up in the same town you live in, it was likely very different then, so you can ask them to explain what it was like for them growing up there. If they grew up in another place, this question might bring up even more exciting stories and tidbits you’ve not heard before.

    Consider this question another chance to help your loved one reminisce, practice their story-telling skills, and exercise their memory. A simple interview that requires description and narration may spark a conversation seamlessly and, if lucky, call back some pleasant memories for them.


    “What Did School Look Like When You Were a Child?”

    12Oaks-look out the window, supporting at home, senior-as-What Did School Look Like When You Were a Child_

    As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” So what’s the point in learning about the past through books and films when you can learn through your old pal who lived through all those historical stages?

    However, avoid topics associated with grief, like war or divorce, because that may trigger anger and anxiety. Instead, ask them about pleasant memories, like those during school years. You can also share the differences between things then and now, as they may find it interesting to see how things have changed over the years.


    “Where Did You Meet Mom/Grandma or Dad/Grandpa?”

    12Oaks-Granddaughter looking at a photo album with her grandparents-as-Where Did You Meet Grandma_Grandpa_

    It’s never too late to express your curiosity about your parents’ or grandparents’ marriage. If you’ve never asked them how they met and married, go ahead. Don’t think it’ll be inappropriate – most people are happy to talk about how they met and fell in love.

    It’s alright to ask about this even if your parents’ or grandparents’ marriage ended in divorce or their spouse passed away long ago. A little touch into their long-gone recollection may help by returning them to the past’s beautiful days. Don’t worry if tears are shed – it’s a sign of memories being reflected upon and cherished.


    “What Were the Jobs That You Had in Your Life?”

    12Oaks-Senior master carpenter with his granddaughter in the wood workshop-as-What Were the Jobs That You Had in Your Life_

    If your parents or grandparents ask themselves, “Why am I so emotional?” it may be time to bring back the pleasant and light atmosphere. You can do that by asking about their past occupations.

    You may think you understand your loved one very well, but you may be surprised to learn of some work they’ve done that you didn’t know anything about. For example, there may be some businesses or work they’ve been keeping to themselves the whole time. Knowing your family members’ professions will also allow you to learn more about their mindsets, preferences, and point of view toward life.


    “Did You Have Any Big Dreams When You Were a Kid?”

    12Oaks-Senior looks at old family photos, memory of the past-as-Did You Have Any Big Dreams When You Were a Kid_

    Just because they’ve been through many occupations doesn’t mean there’s nothing left they wish they could have done. Everyone has a dream, and so do your parents or grandparents. Dream big, they say, but sometimes a big dream is to pass down to posterity.

    Knowing about the dreams of your loved one is beneficial, mainly when they have never achieved them, and you can help them do so. If they want to travel somewhere and see a place in person, offer help. If possible, manage your tight schedule and book a flight to where your parents or grandparents can’t wait to visit for the first time.


    “What Is the Accomplishment You’re Most Proud Of?”

    12Oaks-Grandchild with grandparents at home-as-What is the Accomplishment You’re Most Proud of_

    Asking this question is a beautiful way to end the conversation on a high note and gain some meaningful insight into what matters most to your relative simultaneously. Their answers may also give you some ideas for things to discuss with them in future conversations.

    12 Oaks Senior Living is where your grandparents experience an ideal living environment. We use senior conversation starters proven effective in encouraging communication, practicing speaking and story-telling skills, and nurturing cognitive abilities.

    We also find having conversations with senior individuals a pleasant experience to learn from their wisdom. For younger family members, a multigenerational relationship helps us understand aging, care about other people’s needs, and gives us first-hand life stories. And for seniors, it helps them feel less alone and gives them a life purpose.


    If you have questions about senior conversation starters or any conditions discussed here, connect with us and learn more. 

    At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. Thus, 12 Oaks communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

    Don’t hesitate to contact us for questions or to schedule a personalized tour. 


    At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.



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