This required Portfolio assignment will give you experience observing and interacting with people outside of the classroom. It has been designed to provide you with the opportunity to develop skills, synthesize knowledge, and integrate learning in a real world setting. This assignment accomplishes that goal by challenging you to:
• conduct a semi-structured interview with an elderly individual
• analyze his/her responses in a systematic manner
• integrate this real-world experience with your knowledge of the aging process based on evidence from journal articles and other scholarly sources.
Read the following articles on the behavioral determinants of healthy aging. The full-text articles are available in the Week Five Electronic Reserve Readings:
• Hartman-Stein, P. E., & Potkanowicz, E. S. (2003). Behavioral Determinants of Healthy Aging: Good News for the Baby Boomer Generation. Online Journal Of Issues In Nursing, 8(2), 127-146.
• Potkanowicz, E. S., Hartman-Stein, P., & Biermann, J. S. (2009). Behavioral Determinants of Health Aging Revisited: An Update on the Good News for the Baby Boomer Generation. Online Journal Of Issues In Nursing, 14(3), 11.
• Masotti, P. J., Fick, R., Johnson-Masotti, A., & MacLeod, S. (2006). Healthy naturally occurring retirement communities: A low-cost approach to facilitating healthy aging. American Journal of Public Health, 96 (7), 1164-1170.
Identify a senior citizen (age 65 or older) and schedule an hour to talk with him/her face to face. Be sure to tell the person that you are completing the interview as part of a class assignment and that the content of the interview is completely confidential (no names will be used). Conduct an informal interview, focusing on the participant’s health and wellness.
When interviewing the individual, ask questions that correspond to the following categories:
• Physical activity, past and present: Ask about exercise routines as well as ordinary activities that involve physical exertion such as yard work, house cleaning, walking, and so on. Try to determine whether or not the participant has maintained an active lifestyle over the years.
• Mentally stimulating activities, past and present: Ask the participant what he/she does to stay sharp. This might include card games, crossword puzzles, reading, taking courses, and so on. Try to determine the extent to which the participant has challenged him/herself to engage in ongoing, active learning.
• Social support and social interactions: Ask the participant about his/her social contacts, past and present. This could include his/her spouse or partner, friends, relatives, social clubs, social activities, etc. Try to determine whether the participant has a strong base of social support.
• Meaningful activities: What gives life meaning? Ask the participant to recall his/her most meaningful activities and ask if he/she is still engaged in such activities. This will vary from person to person but could include helping others, teaching younger people, religious or spiritual activities, giving back to his/her community, sharing talents or skills, creative activities, and so on. Your task is to determine if the participant is still actively engaged in activities that matter to him/her.
• Recreational/leisure activities: What does the participant do for fun? Try to get a sense of what he/she still enjoys and how frequently he/she participates in enjoyable activities.
• Living environment. What is the individual’s home environment like? Does he/she live in a retirement community? If so, what is it like? Does he/she still drive? If not, how does the individual manage transportation challenges such as running routine errands, getting to doctor’s appointments and attending social events? What environmental challenges does he/she face?
Try to keep the interview process light and fun. Focus on what the participant is doing well.
Part I: Document the questions you asked and the participant’s responses. This is your interview ‘transcript’ which will be turned in along with your reflective paper.
Part II: Write a 1,000-word reflective paper based on the interview. In your paper, include a discussion on the following points:
• Most notable aspects of the interview: What topics did your interviewee respond most strongly to and why?
• Most surprising aspects of the interview: Did any of the interviewee’s responses surprise you? Explain.
• A commentary about the participant’s overall functioning: Use the information from the required readings to make a general assessment of the participant’s health and well-being. Would you use the term ‘healthy aging’ to describe the participant? Why or why not? What is he/she doing well? What areas could use improvement? What suggestions would you make, based on your knowledge of the determinants of healthy aging?
• A discussion of what you learned from this experience.
Use the literature in gerontology, wisdom, and successful aging to supplement your paper and support your points. Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines and be sure to cite your sources in a reference section at the end of your paper.
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