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21 Questions You Should Ask People With Dementia To Bridge The 'Conversation Gap'

For many of us, loss comes with a lot of feelings of not just sadness but guilt, frustration, and even numbness. Grief varies from person to person and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. One thing that does seem to be common, especially for those of us who have lost older relatives, is feeling like we missed our opportunity to get to know them better.

In fact, according to research commissioned by KYN, innovators in later life care, 66% of Brits who have lost older loved ones wish they’d had more meaningful conversations to understand “the real them.”

For 29% of respondents, this was due to not spending enough time with them, for 26%, it was not knowing where to start and for 24%, they were worried about upsetting their relatives by asking about their pasts. 

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Researchers say that the new research “highlights one of the biggest taboos of later life – the conversation chasm between younger and older generations that leaves many never really getting to know their nearest and dearest.”

Have Meaningful Conversations With Relatives By Asking These Questions

In time for Dementia Action Week (15th-21st May), KYN and psychologist Honey Langcaster-James collaborated to create 21 meaningful questions to start conversations with older relatives.

  1. What have you learned over the course of your life that you can pass on to me - what do you think it would be good for me to know?

  2. Tell me about some of your earliest memories.

  3. Where were you born and raised, and what was it like there while you were growing up? 

  4. What was your childhood like overall and what is your fondest memory from when you were young?

  5. What were your school days like and what did you most enjoy learning about at school?

  6. What hobbies and interests did you have, and what did you most enjoy doing in your free time when you were younger?

  7. What is the most surprising thing you think people don’t know about you?

  8. What was your favourite music or artist when you were growing up and why?

  9. What has been the most interesting job you’ve ever done?

  10. Who have you loved during your life, how did you first meet them, and how did your love story unfold?

  11. What is the most significant historical moment you lived through or witnessed and what did you think about it all? 

  12. What was your favourite decade overall and why? 

  13. Who were your role models and who influenced you in your life and why? 

  14. Where was the most interesting place you ever travelled to and what did you make of the place? 

  15. What was the most challenging obstacle you had to overcome in your life and what did you learn from that?

  16. What is your proudest accomplishment in life and why? 

  17. Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self?

  18. What’s the best book you ever read and why?

  19. What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen throughout your lifetime?

  20. What’s the funniest thing that ever happened in your life and what makes you laugh? 

  21. What are your hopes for the future and how would you most like to be remembered?

Emma Hewat, Head of Dementia at KYN said: “In later life, sadly it’s quite common to lose sight of people’s identity and only focus on their age or the condition of their health. People’s past experiences, current interests and future wishes are still as relevant in later life as they ever have been and it’s really important to continue to reinforce that through having meaningful conversations.”

1 in 3 People Born In The UK This Year Will Develop Dementia In Their Lifetime

According to Alzheimer’s Research UK,1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop dementia in their lifetime and, currently, it’s estimated that 944,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in the UK. 52% of the UK public know somebody who has been diagnosed with dementia.

While dementia is currently incurable, early diagnosis can lead to improved quality of life and care. According to the NHS, early symptoms of dementias can include:

  • Memory loss

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping 

  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word

  • Being confused about time or place

  • Mood changes

If you notice these symptoms, speak to a GP sooner rather than later.

Brb, we’re off to call our grandparents.

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