Pegi, It's frusterating for older people when their memories are questioned...ie, the date differeces. I too work with a senior. Here are my guidelines when I work with her.
1. Limit the visit, either in person or on the phone to 30 min or what she can do without getting to tired. Note the lenght of each visit, and when she starts to get upset, or drifting. This maybe a sign to either change topics to a lighter note, or to end the visit, as she maybe having a bad day, or not be well, or is tired.
2. Never question her memories, and always be polite. You are there to gather information from her. Now is not the time to judge what she is saying. Even if not correct, she still needs to be needed and to tell her "stories".
3. Take a recorder, or a note book with you. Let her chose a photo she wants to talk about.
4. If she will allow it, photograph the photoes you looked at together, or see if you can set up a cam-corder and tape the visit. You might even see if you could invite her on an outing to Walmart, as you want to give her a special gift. Tell her that she must bring the photoes that you talked about that day. Once @ Walmart, go to the photo department, and ask her to place her photoes, one at a time, on the photo scanner, walk her through coping them. Help her scan each of the photoes. when all are scanned, ask her which one is her favorite one. Help her print out a 5x7 of it, a copy of the scanned photoes, and a CD of all the photoes, if you want. Take and buy a 5x7 frame and help her put her favorite picture in it. Ask her nicely if you can keep the copies, or the CD for yourself, so you can treasure the day with her. If she wants the copies, and/or the Cd, make a second set so you can each have one. . Give all the originals back to her. Do not except any money from her. This is your contribution in preserving the photoes.
5. At the beginning and end of each visit, thank her for visiting with you. Ya might even send her a note of thanks after the visit.
6. At the end of each visit, ask to meet with her again, and set a time and keep it, or call if you can't.
7. Leave her with a question that you are interested in finding out more about next visit...such as What was a family tradition her family had around the holidays? What would she like her children to know about....? etc.. "Will she write down the address of her children, aunts, uncles, whomever you want. Respect her wishes and always thank her for what she does give you. Keep it friendly.
8. On the next visit ask her again the question you had told her you wanted to talk about next time. Keep doing this on each visit. Seniors sometimes need time to remember things, and by presenting the question you want to talk about the next week, it will give the time they need. It will also help them feel productive and needed.
9. See if she and you can have a phone conversation or meeting/lunch with any of her family or friends. Be sure to note their names, addresses & most importantly respect her wishes on these visits, Respect her feelings of what she will or won't share with you, or will or won't do with you. Ya might even ask her if you can copy her phone book into a larger print so she can see it better. From this, have her talk to you about each person, thus making it enjoyable for her. Ask her if you can write to some of the people in the book, or offer to help her write her letters to family and friends. Make your meetings a win-win. If this isn't possible, make it a win for her anyway.
10. Remember to have fun with this and her. Treat her with respect her age deserves, and give her the gift of feeling some one cares about her, her life, and that her photoes and stories are important. If the topic comes up, offer to digitize all of her photoes for her. You may even ask her to note in her will, that if her children do not want the photoes, that you would be honored to safe guard them for her.