Originally published on Caregiving.com on June 29, 2020. Editing and updated February 2024.

A lot of my work with caregivers focuses around holding the awkward conversations about topics we hate to bring up: driving/not driving, moving or staying at home, end-of-life wishes, talking to doctors and medical care, hiring help, and so on. And then, once begun, how to engage the whole family and find the resources necessary to create a plan that can be implemented in the future to ensure fulfilling days, secure financial arrangements, and a healthy lifestyle for your parents. (When Can We Talk: A Guidebook for Caregivers Holding Discussions Around Difficult Topics was published in November 2023)

For more fun and enjoyable time together, asking historical questions gives you and your children a chance to learn more about your family while they’re still well enough to share their memories. You’ll be helping them keep their mind sharp. It’s like exercising your body–good for you no matter when you do it! Plus, you’ll be giving the gift of historical context to a next generation that may not get to ask these questions.

I interview my mother all the time (some might say I’m nosy!?) and thus I keep learning all kinds of things. There was the disturbing revelation that my mother believes she was molested by a contractor working on her home when she was a child. Or finding out that during our cross-country trip (when I was a child) my parents gave me money (and secretly tipped the hostess) and sent me to take my sister and brother out to dinner so my parents could stay in the hotel room and have conjugal time! Or the time my dad said something rude to my mother, and she was angry about it for over fifteen years.

But there’s also news about relatives I didn’t know we had. An interesting family connection to Lucille Ball. The fact that my father flew planes. Who knew? My parent’s recollections of how my siblings and I interacted are different than my memories. What can you find out?

This is a great article from AgingCare.com with twenty targeted questions you can ask:

Find the list of questions to ask your aging parents on AgingCare.

You can also use trivia style games that pose these questions. These can be found online by doing a search “family trivia games”.

Have some family game time that you’ll treasure for years to come!