Even after years of knowing someone and frequently chatting with them, it can be surprising how little you truly know about their life. Too often, we focus on light conversation topics, like the weather, TV shows, and our day-to-day lives – never delving beneath the surface to deeper and more personal subjects. This is especially unfortunate when you’re talking to someone in their sunset years, because they have years and years of stories to tell. So the next time you talk to your grandmother, an old friend, or someone you’ve just met, consider putting forward some of these story starters for seniors.
Story Starters for Seniors
Do you remember the time you laughed the hardest?
Everyone has experienced an uncontrollable, side-splitting bout of laughter. And if you ask this question, you’ll likely get a few laughs in return. Even if the story is one of those “you-had-to-be-there” situations, seeing your loved one relish the memory of that laughter is sure to make you smile.
What was your first car like?
Assuming you live in a part of the country where owning a car is the norm (city dwellers might not have much to say), your loved one might have a lot of stories about their first car. What model and make was it? What did it look like? How much did it cost? Whatever happened to it? Especially if your loved one has a fondness for cars, this is a great topic to get a conversation rolling.
What was it like when you first encountered (insert technology here)?
So many amazing technologies have emerged in the last 100 years or so. Especially if you’re a young person talking to someone older and wiser than you, it can be incredibly interesting to hear about their first experiences with a certain piece of technology: a computer, a TV, a cell phone (or a smartphone), a CD, a digital camera, etc. An alternative question could be something like, “What technology item were you most excited about in your younger years?”
What was it like when you first met (insert person here)?
Sometimes it can feel as though everyone in your family has known each other forever, but for many people, there was a first meeting – and perhaps an initial awkward phase, an immediate infatuation, or some unexpected animosity. So consider asking your grandfather, for example, what it was like when he first met your grandma or your dad (his son-in-law). You might be surprised by his answer!
What were your nicknames growing up?
We’re talking about story starters for seniors, but this is a great question for all ages. Nicknames are a funny thing and they often arise from unexpected situations or habits. Some nicknames follow us into adulthood while others die off early.
What were your favorite things to do as a child?
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine, but we were all children once! This is a great question to ask as you’re looking over photo albums, as some of the pictures might spark memories. Two other fun questions to ask about someone’s youth are “Did you ever get in trouble as a teenager?” and “What was your first job?”
What are your favorite holidays and traditions?
After years of celebrating holidays together, it can be interesting to learn which ones meant the most to your loved one. You could also ask them to discuss how the celebration of that holiday changed over the course of their life. How did they enjoy it as a child, as a young person, and as a parent? And what were their favorite yearly traditions?
When you were a kid, what did you imagine your life would be like?
Finally, if you’re looking for a reflective question that really explores your loved one’s life as a whole, consider this one. What did they imagine their live would look like? What job did they think they would have? How many children, if any? Where did they think they would live or travel? Not only does this give you a glimpse of their childhood self, but it also lets you see how life surprised (and perhaps delighted) them.
We hope these story starters for seniors have inspired you to ask some deeper, probing questions of your loved ones. Happy chatting!
If you’re looking for a new home where you can enjoy your golden years, check out The Shores of Lake Phalen in Maplewood, Minnesota. Located in a wooded setting near two lakes, our community offers apartment-style housing with the atmosphere and elegance of a resort. Thanks to the team of dedicated staff members, residents enjoy a carefree lifestyle without the common worries of running a household. Schedule a tour to explore our community or give us a call at 651-777-7784. We look forward to hearing from you!