guided interview written assignment

Plans/Arrangements for Conducting Interview

Background Information

My grandmother AK is a 77-year-old Korean-American woman. She was born in China during World War II. After the war, she moved to the South Korea with her family. She was the youngest child in the seven siblings. Her father was a solider who fought for the national independence with Japan during WWII. Her mother was a housewife and stayed at home for raising the children. She grew up in a strict household, where love was shown in actions more than words. As a result, her childhood played a great role in making her the woman she would become.

She is thoughtful, passionate and very polite with people. She is a divorcee with three children. She currently lives with her oldest son in a three bed room apartment. She is very actively involved with her church and enjoys the activities that the church provides to senior citizens. I chose to interview her because she always seeks to influence the lives of her children, grandchildren and those around her. She is a strong and positive woman. Sometimes people wonder whether someone in their senior years can really make a difference in our fast-pace world, where those who are considered of little use are considered of little value and pushed to the sidelines. My grandmother is a clear example of firmness that portrays that age and health need no barriers for changing lives. She also loves to tell stories, and her stories have meanings. That is why I asked her to be my interviewee.

I interviewed her in two sessions; Oct 2, 2006 and Oct 7, 2006. It was a phone interview since she lives in California – the permission was obtained through the phone. My goal for the interview was to help implementing positive attitudes and images toward healthy aging by appreciating her life experiences.

Becca R Levy, Yale University professor, recently published the result of a study entitled “Hearing decline predicted by elder’s stereotype” (Levy). This study shows that social environments particulate to stereotype people are exposed to and hold can affect physiological and health outcome of elders. I wanted to promote a positive image of aging to my grandmother. Since my grandmother always likes to tell stories, I let her select the stories that she would like to tell me and listened to it very carefully and actively.

Description of Interview Process

Explanation of Plans Implemented

I picked Saturday for the interview because she is normally free on that day and does not have any activities. All the arrangements were carried out as per the plan. For her convenience, I also asked her to give me the most suitable time for the interview; she gave me 8 AM as she believes that she thinks better in the early part of the day.

Describe Interview Questions Actually Used With Rationale

I asked her to select stories, which she would like to talk about or stories that she would like to tell me. I want to know those stories that have meanings; happened to her or someone she knew; or just tales that have been passed down in her culture for many generations. Both kinds of stories have a point – a good lesson. Stories pass on the wisdom that the older people have as a result of living a long life and addressing many situations.

Communication Techniques Used and Analysis of Effectiveness

            I used effective communication techniques. They are active listening, use of verbal devices and body gestures (Craven, 2006). Since my interview sessions were conducted by a phone, I mostly used verbal devices such as go-on, yes, I am with you etc. These are facilitation responses to encourage the party to say more, continue with the story without interfering him/her. I also focused on her voice tone to read and recognize her emotions involved with the story. During the initial phone call, I introduced myself, stated the purpose of the call, obtained her background information and asked questions. For the second session, I asked her if she wants to add anything to the stories she told me during the first session and summarized her story for the verification purpose.

Summary of Stories Told

One of my grandmother’s stories is the true story of a woman she knew when she was in her late teens. This woman had fallen in love with a man at a first sight; it seemed that the man gave her affection; instead he started disliking and left her for another lady. The poor woman was completely devastated and become inconsolable. Her family members tried a lot to cheer her up, to introduce her to other young men and to distract her from the bad memories but failed, instead she became extremely depressed. She lost all her interest in food, lost a great deal of weight; in fact, it became an obsession for her.

In the end, she died as a victim of the broken heart. My grandmother knew this woman very well. She lived near her family and they were known her too. This tragedy made a big impact on my grandmother’s life. She always advises me that “keep a rock in your heart” – this advice was based on having witnessed the woman’s deterioration life and death.

Theoretical Analysis

Interpretation of Story

In her story, the listener sees that although it may seem like a tragedy to lose one’s love, it is not worth losing one’s life over; the story shows how critical it is to maintain a perspective. Such type of stories impart the wisdom that the older people have as a result of living a long life and addressing many situations; they pass on the knowledge in the form of stories since they are easy to accept and remember in that form.

Aging Theoretical Framework

According to Buhler’s (1968) Course of Human Life Theory, self-fulfillment is the key to the healthy development. The central concepts of the life-course perspective blend the key elements in psychological theories such as life stages, tasks and personality developments with sociological concepts such as role behavior and the interrelationship between an individual and a society (Mauk, 2006). As in this theory, AK seems to have successfully achieved self-fulfillment as a caregiver of the younger generation by sharing her life experiences and wisdom for a successful life.  The Human Life Theory appears to explain Mrs. AK’s enthusiasm sharing her stories. Elders live long because their grandchildren or younger generation need them; children consume a lot of resources but do not generate any until they are in their twenties. It is not easy for grandparents as well as parents to raise their children. I also view the elderly people as good caregivers. By viewing the elderly people as caregivers, we can promote a positive image of aging and overcome the stereotype of aging.

Critique of Learning

            This interview gave me a new perspective. It adds a new dimension to the value of my grandmother’s stories; their value in helping me understand a life and people is at some level an aid to self-sufficiency towards making me capable of generating my own resources and appropriating wisdom for a successful life. The stories contain lessons that I can learn from, apply and make a generational transfer of to my own grandchildren some day, thus, perpetuating the cycle. As a nursing student, I develop a new view on older adults that they are not just dependents of young generations, but are also caregivers – they do deserve a lot more respect then we usually give to them.


Craven, T.& Hirnle, C.(2006). Fundamentals of nursing: Human health and function.

            (5th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippinocott Williams & Wilkins.

Dr. Becca R Levy (2006). Hearing decline predicted by elder’s stereotype.

            Yale University Public Affaire Archieves.  Retieved on October 8, 2006 from:


Kristen L. Mauk (2006). Gerontological Nursing: competencies for care. Massachusetts:

            Jones and Bartlett.

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