It can be a bit intimidating when you ask someone if you can talk to them about their memories. Why not just ask them if you can look at some of their old pictures, nic nacs, maybe just ask them to tell you about pictures you have. Even just go over to watch an movie or listen to Old Time Radio. Taking them to a museum is an incredible way to get them talking about their life, you have the drive to & from to talk and the old items they used in their life. Another good way is at family reunions, just sit in the back and listen. Whenever possible ask them who, what, where, when & why.
When they are looking at old photos it is going to bring back memories that you want to make record of & fill in gaps you may have. I enjoy listening to Old Time Radio when I was driving and it was about 125 miles to take my mother to the doctor. She would tell me about her life while that was playing. I found out how proud grandpa was of his first radio, how they had to take the battery out of the truck to use it, and a simple as a commercial she wondered if that was why her father started drinking postum, just to name a few gems.
You can get digital recorders now that can record hours of content and aren’t very threatening. There are several free programs you can edit these files so you can snip out the information you don’t want or paste different talks together. That way you can either transcribe it or you have a recorded treasure.
I would like to hear what you use as memory trigger, so please leave a comment.