‘Ask Jan’ – Something To Talk About

Dear Jan,

I work in a day care centre which is really well-attended by local elderly people. Many of our service users are in the early stages of dementia. When they are with us at our centre they are happy, engaged and chatty. A few of them are brought and collected by their relatives, who tell me that it’s a challenge to get them talking most of the time and want tips for getting a conversation flowing! Do you have any advice?

Miriam, Day CareCentre Activities Manager


Dear Miriam,

Well this sounds familiar!

Whether you work in a day care setting, or a care home, you’ll have heard countless relatives saying that they don’t know what to talk about with their loved one anymore. This is one of the main reasons why relatives can find visits tricky and upsetting.

It sounds like your day care centre provides a wonderful opportunity for service users to connect with others and share conversation. Well done, you obviously provide a brilliant level of care and should be proud of yourselves.

So, the question is – how can relatives achieve that same connection with their loved one outside of your care setting?

First of all, suggest they use a prop or prompt to stimulate conversation. Once you get started, it’s easier to keep conversation flowing. The Daily Sparkle is a brilliant tool for prompting memories and getting people talking. The fact that you’re writing to me suggests that you probably already use our resources in your care setting. You’ll be pleased to hear that The Daily Sparkle has recently launched a version specifically designed for use in home environments, called Memory Sparkles. Memory Sparkles is perfect for the elderly and people living with dementia to enjoy both on their own but also with their relatives. The content is ideal for sparking reminiscence and therefore stimulating conversation. Subscriptions are affordable and simple. Take a look here and suggest this as an option to relatives who are keen to connect with their loved one more meaningfully.

Alternatively, you could suggest creating a simple memory box for them to use with their loved one. Old photographs, press cuttings, and old favourite books or objects are great conversation starters. These items can be gathered easily and will prompt discussions about their loved one’s past.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes,


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