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Study of Aging Interview

Study of Aging Interview

As a required exercise for this course you will be doing an informational interview with a senior of your choice.  See me if you don’t have such a person available to you.  The length of the interview depends in part on the willingness of the senior to talk for an extended period, and the senior should be able to recall and relate details of his/her life intelligibly.  A recommended session would last an hour but you may have the opportunity to have a shorter or second session, especially if the senior is a family member.  During this interview you will make a connection with the interviewee (if they are unknown to you) and gather information you will type into a finished report. Some seniors will establish the pace and direction of the interview – some may not.  Be flexible.

I. What should the interview accomplish?  A win/win situation during which your interest and

respect helps validate them and provides you with information that might surprise you.

How to accomplish this?  See all points below.  Your task is to get basic info without being

Intrusive and establish a bond if only for that time, while respecting their privacy.

Introduce yourself, bring some kind of token gift you can give them after the interview (avoid

food – you don’t know their dietary limitations). Speak slowly and clearly until told otherwise.  Ask if they can hear you well to confirm your volume is appropriate. Sit facing the person on the

same level, dress respectfully, check to see if they are willing to continue – if they are tired or would like a break.  Have nothing in your mouth but your teeth and tongue. Be honest.

II.        Learn what they have been through in their lives because much has changed from then

to now.

How to accomplish this?  By asking intelligent and open-ended questions and by careful

listening/reflecting.  You are creating a dialogue by listening and responding – not just asking


III. Discover the feelings and experiences that have made them who they are and apply what is

appropriate to your own life.

How to accomplish this?  Reflect on the information gained and be a critical thinker.

IV. Create a positive experience.  Leave the person with the understanding that they have been of help to you and that you appreciate their contribution.

How to accomplish this?  Let your body language (nonverbals) and your verbal feedback reflect respect, interest and gratitude.  Smile (when appropriate).  Ask permission (may I sit here? may I take notes? Is it OK to continue?).  Acknowledge their right to not to answer a question – confirm that this is OK.

V. Offer to mail/give them a copy of your final report.

VI. Don’t make promises you won’t/can’t keep about future interactions.

Introduction to Aging “Interview with a Senior” Report Guidelines

1.  Use standard class format – this can be found in your syllabus.

2.  Cover page:

    • Your Full Name
    • Class Designation:  GRT 110-01 or GRT 110-50
    • Interview with a Senior
    • Date Submitted

a-d should be centered, both horizontally and vertically.

3. The final page should be a list of the questions you asked.

4. Spell and grammar check and, if you’re not a strong writer/speller, have someone proofread the paper

    for you.  The CAPS Center can do this for you without an appointment.

5. Total length 2-4 pages but listen to my comments in class about paper length.

6.  I leave the organization of the paper to you, but you need to introduce me to your senior – make

     them real and please use first names only.  Do not type this as a dialogue (I said, she said, I said..)

     The last paragraph of the paper should be a final statement about the experience and the conclusions

     you reached as a result of the exercise.

7. Submit your paper as a Google doc prior to midnight 12/1.  You may not submit it in any other

    format, and I will not accept it late.

Sample questions from prior Aging classes:

1. What is your age/birth date?  Where were you born?

2. What would you like me to know about you?

3.  If you could change anything in your past, what would it be?

4.  What national/international events do you remember? What impact did they have on your life?

5.  What do you enjoy doing?  What makes you happy?

6.  Family/relationship questions

7.  Best memories…

8.  What did you do for work?  Education?

9.  What are your favorite foods?  Music?

10.  Religious background?  Role of this in your life?

11.  To where have you traveled and what have you seen?

12.  Have you ever been to Disney?

13.  If you’re willing to tell me, what was the most tragic thing that happened in your life?

14.  What is the most memorable thing that happened in your childhood?

15.  Who or what influenced you throughout your life?

16.  What was the most popular band or music that you liked when you were younger?

17.  What were your hobbies when you were (my age, a teenager, a young adult)

18.  What is something you would like to have accomplished that you have not?

19.   Of what are you the most proud?

20.  Are you satisfied with how you lived your life?  If you could change anything, would you?

21.  What are your daily activities?

22.  Are you interested in what’s going on in the world today?

23.  What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up? Biggest priority for the day.

24.  If you could give any advice for my future, what would it be?

25.  How old do you feel?  How’s your age affecting that?

26.  What tools do you (did you) have to help through hard times?


27.  What changes have you made in the last 5 years and how have you adapted to them?

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