San Jose State University Elderly People Interview

You will interview a community-dwelling adult (not someone living in a long term care facility) who is at least 65 years of age. If you are 65+ yourself, be sure to interview someone who is different from you in some major way (such as sex, race/ethnicity, health status, and/or educational level). Telephone/face time/zoom/ etc. may be used unless interviewing an elder you live with and see on a regular, safe basis. Tip: focus on the present with some on the past depending on the questions but students make the mistake of not looking at the rubric and write mostly about their youth and this paper is about them now not when younger.

The person you interview can be a family member, a co-worker, someone you know from a religious or community organization, or someone completely new to you. It is strongly recommended that you consider talking to someone of a different ethnicity. Interview does not have to be in person due to risk of COVID-19 so do not put anyone at risk.

Conducting the Interview.

Tell the respondent that you are taking this course. They will be helping you by talking about past/present life experiences. Assure respondent that you will not use person’s name or breach confidentiality without their permission. Person can refuse to answer any questions and can stop the interview at any time. If the respondent is in reasonably good health, you can probably plan on getting what you need to know for this assignment in one session. However, if respondent is frail, you may need to have more than one session. During your interview, you should encourage the person to talk in a conversational way; if respondent is reluctant to discuss a topic, do not force an answer. You may give my number if the elder has any questions regarding this assignment.

DO NOT INCLUDE THE LIST OF THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS in your paper~ You will be asking what is stated in this assignment and the rubric so that’s what I will be giving points for and grading–address the issues you’ll see listed on the following page and any questions you add that are not part of the assignment will not be graded:

The interview report will be graded on the basis of organization, clarity, and appropriate use of terms and concepts from class. I will pay particular attention to your discussion of gender, race, discrimination, culture, class, and education and how you integrate course objectives, lectures, discussions, readings, etc.


Cover the following issues and discuss the implications including the person’s strengths andlimitations in each category (you might even try asking what strengths or limitations the person relates to in each category as their answers may be different than what you think. (for ex: if elder is living with a son or daughter, you might think that might not be a good idea but they do!).

1.health: physical functioning (e.g., chronic illnesses, ADLs/IADLs)

2.health: psychological functioning (e.g., sad, grieving, happy, grateful, anxious, memory issues)

3.social relationships and roles (e.g., family ties, support network, class/gender issues)

4.cultural background (e.g., diversity, religion, values, discrimination)

5. economic situation (if the elder is reluctant to answer, do not push but make sure stated in paper why information wasn’t included in your paper)

6. housing situation and living arrangements (e.g., home (single story, 2-story, apartment –low income or not, retirement community, neighborhood- do they feel safe or not)A tip to capture all the information needed for this paper is to write down your questions in advance using simple everyday words (most elders do not talk about “functioning” or “social roles”)

You can either take notes during the interview, ask for permission to tape the interview, or set aside time to write notes immediately afterward but do not hand in your list of questions. This is an essay paper and instructor’s questions will be the expected answers addressed in your paper not your own questions that you make up.

Discuss the STRENGTHS and LIMITATIONS of the person in each area above, based on your conversation and observation. If the elder was reluctant to talk about a topic, say so. (You may be able to make some inferences based on observation. For example, if respondent doesn’t want to talk about finances, you can guess the economic status from observing the neighborhood, the house, and elder’s appearance or you might ask about the cost of prescription medications.) The strengths and limitation may be typed as you cover each topic or in a separate paragraph including all 6 topics at the end of your paper.

How is the identity of the elder you interviewed (e.g., religious, gender, ethnic, racial, class, sexual orientation, disability, and/or age) shaped by culture and societal influences within the context of equality and inequality?

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