How to Interview an Aging Parent, Grandparent, or Loved One
Interviewing an aging grandparent, parent, or other elderly loved one is a great way to capture memories and learn more about the past. Capturing these stories and memories is also a lovely way to spend time together during in-person visits.
If you’d like to do an interview with an elderly adult, continue reading for tips on conducting a successful interview and questions to ask.
General tips for interviewing elderly loved ones
The guidelines below will help you and your loved one have an insightful and memorable conversation:
- Consider recording the interview. With an audio or video recording, you can easily share and revisit these cherished family memories.
- Be mindful of your loved one’s energy levels and memory capabilities. If they become flustered or agitated, consider trying another time.
- If your elderly loved one is uncomfortable talking about themselves, start with questions about other people, like their ancestors.
- Once the conversation is flowing freely and everyone is comfortable, move into more personal questions.
- Bring old photos along, which are great conversation starters.
- Ask open-ended questions to encourage sharing and storytelling.
It’s also important to know when to stop. Pay attention to your loved one’s energy levels and mood. If you end the interview while they’re still enthusiastic, they’ll be far more agreeable to future conversations.
Interview questions to ask your aging parents, grandparents, or elderly loved one
The following questions will entice your loved one to share a lifetime of wisdom and stories. Don’t hesitate to add your own questions to the list, either:
- Which person has influenced your life the most?
- How many siblings do you have, and were you close as kids?
- Can you tell me about your relationship with your parents? How about your grandparents and the rest of your family?
- What was the world like when you were a child? Can you tell me about some of the most important world events that you remember?
- Where did you grow up and what was it like?
- Can you tell me about your childhood home?
- What were some of your favorite things to do for fun while growing up, either alone or with siblings and friends?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Did you like going to school? What was your school like?
- Do you have any lost loves?
- How did you meet your spouse? How long was it before you got married?
- If you could go back to any age, what age would you choose and why?
- Do you have any major regrets?
- What accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?
Certain types of questions may encourage your loved one to talk more. Pay close attention to body language, tone, and length of answers during your interview. When you find a topic that resonates, don’t hesitate to keep the momentum going with more questions.
As a local nonprofit, The Argyle has brought high quality and affordable care to Denver’s seniors since 1874. To this day, our caring team remains committed to encouraging independence and preserving the dignity of every resident who calls our community home.