Visiting an elderly relative or friend can be a meaningful activity for children and teens during Lent. Or visit a nursing home. But it can also be uncomfortable for children, young and old, who are not used to visiting with senior citizens. They seem to have so little in common. But in fact, there are some easy ways to break the ice:
- Ask them about photos they have in their room or apartment. Who is it? Are they related? Do you have any good stories about them?
- Or show them photos of your own on your cell phone or tablet.
- Bring some cookies or another treat.
- Bring a board game. Rummy Cube is a favorite or Chinese Checkers.
- Sit outside if the weather permits.
Have some conversation starting questions ready:
- What was your first home like?
- What are your earliest memories of school?
- How did you meet your spouse? (if appropriate)
- What were the big world events when you were growing up?
- What advice would you like to pass along?
- Is there one thing you would like to be remembered for?
- Do you have any funny family stories to share?
- What were popular games and hobbies when you were young?
- Who were your heroes or role models?
- Who were the big celebrities when you were young?
- What is the most interesting place you ever visited?
- What was your favorite subject in school?
- Did you have a career? Were you a homemaker? What did you like best about it?
- What was your church experience and faith life like when you were younger? How has it changed over the years?
Remember that even though some senior citizens might have memory loss and other cognitive issues, they still have a lot of wisdom to share. Be patient and give them time to participate in the conversation. You will be amazed at some of the insights and memories they can share. These are treasures.