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What advice would you give young people to help them prepare for their old age?

Ithaca College Gerontology Institute

Instructions for Interview of Older Adult

Using the questions below, conduct an interview with a person at least 65 years of age. Feel free to add questions of your own whenever one occurs to you.

The report of your interview should meet the following criteria:

1. Typed and double-spaced if possible; if not possible, please write neatly in pen.

2. Include the questions in your report in a format that enables the reader to know what the

person you are interviewing is referring to.

3. Discuss your personal reaction to the interview in three paragraphs at the end of your report.


Questions for Interview of an Older Adult

1. Please tell me about your childhood, family and school life.

2. Do you consider yourself old? At what ages (or stages) did you notice that you were getting older?

3. What is the most important historical event or period of time that you have lived through? How did it influence you personally?

4. What is the biggest change you have seen in how people conduct their everyday lives?

5. What have been the best years of your life so far? What are your plans for the future?

6. How are young people today different from when you were their age?

7. What advice would you give young people to help them prepare for their old age?

8. Have you ever experienced any negative attitudes or discrimination because of your age?

Please explain.

9. Student question. Based on what you’ve learned, ask at least one more question; what else would you like to know about this person’s life?


After you describe the interview, discuss your reaction (three paragraphs).

1. What did you learn? Did anything surprise you?

2. How did you feel during the interview?

3. What changes (if any) have occurred in your perception of older adults? (What did you think before? What do you think now?

Historical Context

Before beginning the interview of their older friend, students need to familiarize

themselves with national events, trends, and presidents of the 1900s.

Important Events:


Development of big business

Development of transportation

Panama Canal

Airplane invented

One room schools

First automobiles

World War I in Europe

U.S. entry into World War I

Flu epidemic

Armistice Day


Women vote



Progressive Era

Stock Market Crash


Great Depression

New Deal

Radio popular


Pearl Harbor

Draft and World War II

Atomic bomb

V-E Day and V-J Day

Cold war and anti-communism



Fear of nuclear war

TV becomes common appliance

Elvis Presley popular



Civil rights

Great Society Programs

John F. Kennedy assassinated

Martin Luther King assassinated

Neil Armstrong first man on moon (Apollo missions)

Beatles popular


Arab oil embargo


Gas Shortage

Drug use more widespread

Computers become more common


Richard M. Nixon resigns as President


John Lennon shot and killed

Bell telephone system divided into smaller companies

Sally Ride-first female astronaut

Space shuttle Challenger explodes

AIDS virus

Ruptured Exxon tanker spills oil

Texas elects first woman Governor since Reconstruction


Nelson Mandella-apartheid ends in South Africa

Persian Gulf crisis

East and West Germany reunited-Berlin Wall taken down

Soviet Union dissolved

First wave of “baby boomers” turns 50


Collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City

War with Iraq


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