How to Capture Your Elder Loved Ones’ Story

Posted: 7/30/2019 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare

It seems most of us nowadays are documenting our lives on social media. But for older adults, documenting the milestones, stories, and accomplishments of life requires some effort on your part. Capturing the story of your senior loved one can be a bonding, surprising and rewarding activity for families. Not sure where to get started? This guide can help. 

What You’ll Need

Your first step is to find out if your parents are willing to make a legacy video, which would require asking them a number of thoughtful questions about their lives in an interview format using a video recording device. If they are, all you’ll need is a smartphone or camcorder, and a list of questions or prompts to get them talking.

Recording Equipment

If you have a smartphone, making a video of your parents’ story is simple and free., To ensure your video is the highest quality, you may want to invest in a smartphone tripod to hold the phone while you conduct the interview. A smartphone external microphone can also be useful to improve audio quality. There are affordable options (under $20) available on Amazon and other retailers. These are easy to use and can affect the quality of your recording tremendously. 


Most smartphones today have good quality cameras and have the ability to edit out any parts you don’t want to keep. Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store have other easy-to-use video editing apps available as well (be sure to read reviews to ensure the app you choose is recommended by other users).

Questions and Prompts

It may take some prompting to help Mom or Dad share stories during your interview. This resource offers a tremendous workbook with prompts, questions and tips; it is an excellent place to start!

Some of the questions recommended include: Earliest memories and childhood; significant people; proudest accomplishments; and most cherished objects. It’s important to include a wide variety of meaningful, open-ended questions to encourage Mom or Dad to keep talking. 


Old photos of your parents, their family members and friends are also great to have on hand to jog your parents’ memories and stimulate conversations.


After you select your questions and photos, be sure to share them with your parents ahead of time so they can have some time to think about their answers. This will make the interview go much more smoothly.

Interview Tips

Arrange an interview time when your parents are rested and relaxed, and choose a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted. You may need several sessions to cover everything you want to discuss.  


When you get started, ask your parents to introduce themselves and ask a warm-up question like “When and where were you born?” Then ease into your selected questions, but use them as a guide, not a script. If your parents go off topic, go with it. You can redirect them to your original question later. Think of your interview as a conversation; there are no right or wrong topics, as long as they’re meaningful to you and your parents. 


Also, be prepared to ask follow-up questions or diverge from your question list if you’re curious about something. If you’d like to hear more, try “And then what happened?” or “How did that make you feel?” or “What were you thinking in that moment?”


Be sure to end your interview with some reflective questions, like, “What legacy would you like to leave?” or “How do you want to be remembered?” 

What’s the next chapter of your loved one’s story? 

At Interim HealthCare, we help you create lasting memories at home for your senior loved ones. Our professional, compassionate caregivers provide senior home care services that can help empower your loved one to stay happy and healthy.