Conversation Starters For The Nursing Home


Every time you go to the nursing home you can feel as though you've got to do a stand-up routine in order to entertain your loved one. That's how it is when you have a lot of one sided conversations. And, that's just the problem. What do you talk about during those visits?

The easiest thing to do is to get elderly people to talk about the things that interest them. Sometimes though, you realize that you've got to prompt the conversation. This involves telling a lot of stories yourself, and asking questions. You feel you've got to keep things going so you reach for whatever you can to help yourself.

Here is a list of ideas to start and keep conversations at the nursing home going:

  1. What are the hobbies you've enjoyed in the past? (This is a way to hear about the hobbies they've done, as well as to get them thinking about what else they might want to try.)
  2. Tell me about the sports you were into in high school? (Even if they can't play the sports now they might like watching a game or two on TV, or in person.)
  3. What TV shows have you been watching? (You can find out ahead of time and watch the same ones so you can discuss the current happenings on the show.)
  4. What was your favorite job? (The discussion can be about the happiest moments of their life.)
  5. What do you think about what's happening in the world right now? (This could be anything on the news you just watched this morning. You probably want to keep the conversation focused on happy events, instead of all of the conflict in the Middle East.)
  6. Aren't you looking forward to your granddaughter's wedding? (This can spur on all kinds topics involving the family. It can be the most exciting part of the visit.)
  7. Guess where we went on vacation this year? (If you've visited one of the places you went as a kid it could bring back fond memories. It's best to have lots of regular pics for them to look at.
  8. Look how I've done my hair today, would you like me to do yours? (This can be the thing you do that will help them feel good about themselves. If you can take them out for a haircut, and style.)
  9. Last night I cooked lasagna for dinner just like you used to make.(This can get things going if it's close to dinnertime. And, it will get everyone thinking about all of those old favorite cookie recipes.)
  10. Who are your friends here? (Once they start telling you about everyone time will fly and you'll probably run in to a couple of them.)
  11. What kind of dreams do you dream? (This can get you talking about far out fantasies or real life dreams. You could also tell them about your dreams.)
  12. What would you wish for if you had one wish? (You could uncover something here that you can actually bring to life. If not it's fun to wish.)
  13. Can you tell me about your first boyfriend/girlfriend? (It might be that it was your father, or your grandfather. It could also be someone who got away. How interesting the answer might be.)
  14. What was your favorite concert? (It may surprise you to hear just how far back they go.)
  15. What did you used to do with your friends when you were younger? (This is an open ended question that could lead just about anywhere. You might want to take the kids out of the room before asking this one.)
  16. What do you like to do today that you couldn't do when you were a kid? (For most older people today it will probably be the internet, but you never know.)
  17. Tell me about your first car? (This is a good idea if you're trying to get them to go out for a drive, but not so much if they can't leave the nursing home.)
  18. What would you do differently if you had it to do over again? (This is something that may have to do with your upbringing so you better watch it here.)
  19. Is there someone in your past you'd like to talk to? (This could lead to a wonderful late in life relationship, or it could be a lot of work on Facebook.)
  20. Is there something you would like to learn? (It could be as easy as bringing a laptop in for regular learning sessions. It could be the prime activity for visits.)

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