100 Great Questions to Ask Grandparents During COVID-19
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During the time of the pandemic, seniors are one of the most vulnerable groups to loneliness and isolation. Many seniors are either under stricter visitation guidelines, whether they are at home or in assisted living communities. While your loved ones are more physically distanced from others in their community and your family, it is more difficult for them to get the socialization they are used to. Not addressing this can easily have a negative impact on their mental, physical, and emotional health. Studies have shown that loneliness and senior health issues go hand-in-hand. Now, more than ever, it is important to engage with your parent and support kids in connecting with their grandparents.

One great way to keep grandparents engaged and connected through the pandemic is to connect with them with your kids through video platforms such as Facetime or Zoom. Set up a time to call them and ask them questions about their life, their current feelings, and how they feel about the current situation. We’ve given you a list of 100 questions to get started. Feel free to add in your own questions!

Asking Life Questions to Grandparents

Asking grandparents about their lives and their loves should be a fun and rewarding task. People, generally, are quite pleased when someone shows an interest in who they are and what they do. Grandparents, however, may live far away from their family. Familial visits may be few and far between, meaning that children cannot completely know their grandparents. Since COVID-19, physical restrictions can further increase the emotional distance between your family and your grandparents, making it harder for your kids to stay close to them and get to know them better. When children question their grandparents about their own past, they can not only learn a lot about their family's history, but they can help keep those important family stories alive. Once a grandfather or grandmother is gone, their stories can be gone as well, or at least become far more difficult to recover.

Discussing Matters of Importance

Discussing matters of importance in your video call can also benefit grandparents. If grandpa or grandma is showing the early signs of dementia, talking with them can help them retain memories (or even spark new memories) before they are completely forgotten. It is also a good time to ask them how the pandemic is affecting them, and to see if setting up weekly video calls could be incorporated into your schedules. Ask their caregiver if they can help support setting up Zoom or Facetime calls to keep your grandparents active and engaged. Science shows that socialization improves overall health and wellbeing, and so it should be highly prioritized, especially now!

Setting up Zoom and Facetime Calls

What is the best way to do a successful Zoom or Facetime Call?

  1. Enlist a family member or caregiver to help. Having someone next to your loved one to help set up an smartphone for Facetime, or a computer for a Zoom call, can help the process be more simple and streamlined.
  2. Schedule a convenient time. Try opting for an earlier time to schedule a video call with your grandparents, if possible. Grandpa or grandma may be more alert earlier in the day and more tired later in the day.
  3. Pick a good room. Make sure that your grandparent is in a private, comfortable, and distraction-free room. Make sure they have enough light so you can all see each other, and that the room has a strong wifi signal so the video doesn’t cut out.
  4. Consider recording the call. Most smartphones come with a video recorder, and a voice recording app. Pick which one is most convenient, and consider using a device to capture the conversation.
  5. Make sure your grandparent is comfortable. Ask a caregiver or a family member to give your grandparent a couple of pillows for support, as well as a glass of water or juice if their throat is dry.
  6. Try new technologies. Technology is a great way to stay connected to your grandparents through this time, and can be utilized even further. A phone and a computer are great starts, but there are also many more options than that. Consider enlisting your grandparent’s caregivers to help integrate more tech tools for seniors, to help them stay engaged and connected.

What are the Best Questions to Ask Grandparents?

Here are 100 questions to ask grandparents to get you started. Ask these questions in any order you like and feel free to add your own!

Growing Up

  1. Where were you born? Could you show me on a map?
  2. When were you born?
  3. What is your full name? Did you have a nickname when you were young?
  4. What was your favorite television show as a child?
  5. What was the first movie you saw in a theater?
  6. What did you do to celebrate birthdays?
  7. What was your first job?
  8. Did you get an allowance?
  9. Did you save it or spend it? When did you open your first bank account?
  10. Were you raised in a certain religion? Are you religious now?

Family

  1. How many siblings do you have?
  2. What are your brother’s or sister’s full names?
  3. What are your parents’ full names?
  4. What were your parents’ careers?
  5. What was the make, model, and color of the family car?
  6. Were you an obedient or misbehaving child?
  7. What was your bedtime as a child?
  8. Did you ever break curfew or sneak out of the house?
  9. Did you have pets?
  10. What were your pet’s names?

School

  1. What were you like during school? (Class clown, shy, etc)
  2. What were you good at in school? Did you have a favorite subject?
  3. Did you study for exams long before they happened or cram the night before?
  4. What were the most popular clothes in school?
  5. What were the most popular toys or gadgets?
  6. Did you play – or want to play – any specific musical instrument?
  7. What sports did you like to play?
  8. What games did you like to play?
  9. Did you participate in any other extracurricular activities like theater, debate, church youth group, etc?
  10. Did you go to college or receive any training after high school? If so, where and what was your favorite part?

Career

  1. How many jobs have you had?
  2. Which was your favorite and why?
  3. What was one of the hardest parts of being in the workforce?
  4. Who was one of your biggest mentors?
  5. Do you have any job advice for me when I start working?

Romantic Relationships

  1. How did you meet your spouse?
  2. What year was it?
  3. What qualities do you remember liking about them?
  4. What was your first date?
  5. When and where did you get married?
  6. How did you propose?
  7. What was your wedding like?
  8. How did you know they were the one?
  9. What was/has been one of your favorite parts of marriage?
  10. What was/has been one of the biggest struggles you've overcome together?

Friendships

  1. How did you meet your best friend growing up?
  2. What did you and your best friend love to do together?
  3. Was there a certain place you and your friends liked to hang out?
  4. How did you make friends as an adult? What did you like to do together?
  5. What’s one of your favorite memories with a friend?

Travel

  1. Did your family go on many vacations together?
  2. What was your best family vacation?
  3. Which countries have you traveled to?
  4. Where is your favorite place you've visited? Why?
  5. Do you have a favorite memory from traveling?
  6. Do you have a scary memory from traveling?
  7. What was the most interesting or unique food or dish you had while traveling?
  8. Who was your favorite travel companion? Why?
  9. If you could visit any place you've already traveled again, where would it be? Why?
  10. Where was the longest trip you've been on? How long did you travel for? What was the occasion?

Military Service

  1. Did you ever serve in the military? If so, what branch?
  2. What years did you serve? Where did you serve? What wars were you involved in?
  3. What was your rank (if applicable)?
  4. What type of work did you perform?
  5. Why did you decide to enlist or were you drafted?
  6. Did you see combat? What was that like?
  7. Were you injured while on duty? How did it happen?
  8. What did you do for entertainment?
  9. Did you keep a diary/keep in touch with your family? Do you still have it?
  10. Did you make any close friendships while in service? Can you tell me about one?

Community Service

  1. Have you/do you participate in any community service? If so, what organizations did/do you volunteer with?
  2. What drew you to these organizations?
  3. How long have you/did you volunteer with them?
  4. What was/is your role in these organizations?
  5. What is a favorite experience you've had with them?
  6. What do you think you got out of these experiences?
  7. How has volunteering made you feel?
  8. Has it changed your outlook on your community?
  9. How do you think your organization has impacted your community?
  10. Are there any organizations you’d like to volunteer or get involved with now?

Life Events

  1. Who has made the biggest impact on your life and why?
  2. What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you?
  3. What is one of your biggest accomplishments in your life?
  4. What items are on your bucket list?
  5. What’s one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome?

Holiday Traditions

  1. What’s your favorite holiday?
  2. Do you have any traditions for the following holidays?
    1. Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa
    2. Thanksgiving
    3. Passover/Easter
    4. Halloween
    5. Valentines Day
    6. 4th of July
    7. Others
  3. What are some of your favorite memories from these holidays?
  4. Are there any special dishes you used to/currently make or eat for these holidays?
  5. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Given?

Favorites

  1. Meal?
  2. Dessert?
  3. Drink?
  4. Color?
  5. Flower?
  6. Singer?
  7. Actor and actress?
  8. Book?
  9. Radio show?
  10. Hobby?

About the Author(s)

As a former co-caregiver, Rick Lauber helped and supported his own aging parents. His mother had Parkinson's and Leukemia and his father had Alzheimer's. Rick learned that caregiving is challenging and used writing to personally cope.

His stories became two books, Caregiver's Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver's Guide.

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