We spend too much of our time together talking about current events and how divided everything is nowadays - I worry that I will think of a hundred questions to ask her after she is gone.

Find Care & Housing
We have used a little product called Table Topics with great success at my house. It's a box of conversation starter cards and I highly recommend it. We use it at dinner sometimes so we don't fall into the trap of interrogating our kids about their day, just because we don't know what else to say to show we're interested in them. It's especially fun when the grandparents come visit and we always learn something new about them.

They're really fun and you just skip whatever ones don't seem relevant. And you won't give off that awful "tell me everything because you have one foot in the grave" vibe.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Slartibartfast
lealonnie1 Nov 23, 2021
GREAT idea!!
Talk about the happiest times in her life. Bring them back to her.

Ask everything you can about her family. Record the conversations by filming these on your phone. Ask her to tell her favorite memories of her parents and grandparents. Funny stories, happy stories, sad times. Miracles she witnessed.

Holidays? Traditions? My family, who lived in the north, actually travelled by horse-driven sleigh for the snowy months.

Research the timeline of her life and ask about important events if she can remember. Where was she when she learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor? Ask lots of follow-up questions so the memories come alive.

Not long before my dad passed away, we drove to the house where his parents had married (it had belonged to his mother’s aunt). We saw a lady walking her dog and dad asked if we could stand inside her house at the bottom of the stairway where his parents had said their vows. Dad could barely walk.

At the time, I was very irritated and embarrassed ?why are we asking this stranger if we can go in her house? Etc., etc.

The lady let us in, and we all stood in the spot. Dad told us how we were all alive because of that one special moment and that very spot.

We were all crying, even the homeowner. This is a very precious moment to me now. I’m mad at myself for being irritated. That moment was a priceless gift.

The next time I saw Dad he was in the hospital suffering from a stroke. He could communicate again, but he was never the same. What I would give for even one of those hard moments!

Enjoy your mom for where she is, for who she is. If she can’t remember, just hug her and laugh. Ask her all her favorite songs from her lifetime. Play her favorite songs from her youth and adulthood on your phone. It will soothe her.

Soak up every moment that you can. Someday there will be no new memories —so fill your mind’s archives while you still can.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to ACaringDaughter

Looking back I wished I had talked with my mom about family photos and who were in them, written it down. Also more stories of her childhood, favorite memories about each person, family ties that she kept up with that I was unaware of & their contact info. Clarified family recipes. Her wishes & dreams, anything that I wonder about now. Most elderly have short term memory loss but have good recall from earlier in their life.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to ToniFromRVA

You WILL think of a hundred questions to ask her after she dies, no matter how many you ask now. You should spend the present talking about the things your mother is interested in talking about. You might ask her some questions about her life and family history, but use her responses ad a guide. Is she interested and eager in sharing her stories? She very well may love reminiscing, but you don't want all of your conversations to be "End-of-Life Interviews."
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to RedVanAnnie

Play some music from her youth. Are you church goers? Sing some hymns. Turn off the news channels if you're watching them. During Christmas season, I watched the Lifetime channel with my Mom. We enjoyed the Christmas music when it was on. And we sometimes made fun of the "they are fighting now, but will be kissing 5 minutes before the show is scheduled to end" formula for almost every program. PBS offers Nature and Nova shows that are beautiful. I've searched for a game I can play with my husband who can't seem to even remember the rules to UNO. The best one so far is called Eye see. It is a bunch of cards with pictures that if you recognize them and then can answer, or guess at a T - F question, you can win. My husband is not severely advanced and can still remember old things. He just forgets things that happened 5 minutes ago, and who the current president is, date and day of the week, that he needs to take a bath... So if your Mother is too advanced, I realize this game won't work. I try to find activities we can "do together", realizing that I'm going to be doing most of the doing. It's really tricky. But otherwise we don't really have conversations much either. I think the person suggesting revisiting old photos has a good idea.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to rjahrmarkt
z3nf0x Nov 23, 2021
This is all such good information.
I asked my ailing 91 year old Mother to record her life story using the VoiceApp that is resident on her iPad. My 93 year old Dad helped her with the mechanics. She didn't need any guidance in terms of subject matter and I ended up with eleven different recordings!
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to daughter1960

I have an account on a website called Golden Carers. It is amazing. My great grandmother and I look at "this day in history" and do trivia/quizzes every day! Note: the history channel and other websites also have "this day in history" for free. Golden Carers is about $50/a year or so, but was worth every penny to me.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to z3nf0x

One idea is to keep a notebook with you and write down your questions when you think of them. Then, take them with you on your visits.

You WILL have a hundred questions when she's gone. The most important thing to do now is cherish your time together. What will be foremost in your mind are the moments you shared with each other.

My husband's niece talks to my husband about family history. She lost her mom as a teen and is in here 30's and full of questions now. My husband and other relatives are able to answer many of those questions. Perhaps you can use similar avenues to find satisfaction to unanswered questions after your mom is gone.

Hope some of this helps.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to NAB1949

I think it's really nice you're visiting with your mother & that you're able to talk about current events; that she has the ability to DO that at 99 years old. When I visit my soon-to-be 95 y/o mother, all she talks about is hateful things & going to visit her dead relatives and/or where they are living or why they're not coming to see her and ignoring her?

If you're worried about the questions you should have asked her after she is gone, write a list of them NOW and ask them. Maybe even record her answers so you'll have them to listen to forever.

Best of luck.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to lealonnie1

Bring photos of the past. A life review is the most helpful at these times and can bring pleasant memories showing how full her life has been.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to KathleenQ

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter