Interview Guidelines

Interview an individual 65 or older.  In general, I want you to ask people to tell you a little about themselves, their life and experiences, and their feelings and attitudes toward aging and old age. Begin by requesting that the interviewee simply tell you a little about themselves. Some people will have a lot to say. Others will require more prodding. Here are some specific topics you can ask about to get or keep things going. Try to get each of your interviewees to address these topics, especially the last group.

You should either electronically record or take notes during the interview. I recommend doing both. This allows you to listen to the recording later to expand your notes. In your note-taking, emphasize their comments and attitudes toward aging and old age. Keep in mind that they may make comments about aging and old age even when you have not specifically asked about it. For example, they may be telling you about how they felt when their first grandchild was born and may say something like, "That really made me feel old," indicating that there may be a connection between having grandchildren and being old in their thinking. In fact, the comments they make about aging when you haven't asked about it directly can be the most interesting and informative.

Write up the interview by briefly summarizing the individual's life, then discussing their attitudes and perception of aging and old age. In other words, briefly introduce the person and provide some background on their life, but spend much of your write up discussing what they had to say about aging and old age. Be sure to address some or all of the questions listed in the last bulleted item above. The write up should be 2-3 pages long and should be typed, double-spaced, with pica or elite type and one in margins.