Assignment: Life Span Interview Essay

Assignment: Life Span Interview

Ray’s case has provided you with direct observation of a client’s and life experiences. In the absence of this direct observation, social workers turn to assessment and interview techniques to gather essential facts about a client’s life span. Interviewing is an important social work skill—and one that requires more than simply reading a set of prescribed questions. A social worker must also demonstrate professional communication, both verbally and nonverbally, ask appropriate follow-up questions, and take notes at the same time.

For this Assignment, you practice interviewing an older adult about life events, experiences, and feelings that have shaped them. You then transform your interview notes into a narrative—that is, a life story—of the individual you interviewed. You interweave within this narrative an analysis of the life story by integrating person and the environment concepts and drawn from HBSE I and II.

To Prepare:

If you have not already done so, interview an older adult (age 65 or older) about their life story, using the Life Span Interview document in the Learning Resources. Take notes as you conduct the interview.

Review your notes and begin to interpret the older adult’s life story through the lens of human behavior and the social environment.

By Day 7

Submit a 3- to 5-page paper in which you provide a narrative analysis of the Life Span Interview you completed. The paper should:

Provide a chronological history of the individual’s major life experiences.

Identify specific biological, psychological, and sociological influences that shaped the individual’s experience.

Analyze the individual’s experiences by applying theory and concepts learned throughout both HBSE courses. 

Be sure to include the ways in which power, privilege, and oppression shaped their experience (e.g., race and ethnicity, gender, religion, ability, sexual orientation, etc.).

Provide your reflection of the experience, both in interviewing the individual and analyzing their narrative.

Explain what you learned and how you will apply this learning to future social work practice.

Use the Learning Resources to support your . Make sure to provide APA citations and a reference list.

Week 10 Life Span Interview

Below are some questions to start the conversation with your interviewee. Do not hesitate to add more questions as needed.

You are encouraged to reach out to a senior center, adult living facility, or nursing home to locate an interviewee, or you may use an older friend or family member. When interviewing an individual, please consider how to show respect to an individual of this age within their cultural values.


How do you prefer to be addressed? What is your age? Where were you born and raised? How do you identify your ethnicity? How do you identify your gender?

Childhood and Adolescence

How many siblings do you have? How would you describe your childhood?

Who were your friends when you were growing up? Did you maintain those friendships throughout life? Any reason why or why not?

What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.) growing up? In your young/middle adult years?

Where did you go to school? What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects?

At what age did you leave home?

Young and Middle Adulthood

Did you marry? If so, at what age? If you have children, how many?

Were you employed? If so, where?

Where did you live?

Were you involved in the military in your young or middle adulthood? If so, how did it mold you as a person?

Later Adulthood

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Have you retired? If so, from where? How would you rate your retirement experience? (Did you return to work?)

Have you experienced any financial limitations in later adulthood?

Do you have any health issues? If so, what are they? Do these health issues place limits on your functioning?

Has religion/spirituality been a part of your life? If so, how has your religious or spiritual development changed in later adulthood?

What has been your experience with aging (physically, psychologically, socially, environmentally)?

Do you have any challenges accessing healthcare?

How would you describe your social life, friendships, and social activities?

How do you see yourself today? (e.g., as an elder, senior, older adult?)

Have you had any experiences with services not being available to you as an elder/senior/older adult?

Have you experienced age-related discrimination? Other types of discrimination?

Looking Back

What has been the happiest moment of your life?

Who is the person who has influenced your life the most?

Have you lost a loved one? If so, how has that loss affected your life?

What world events have had the most impact on you?

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?

As you look back over your life, do you see any “turning points”; that is, a key event or experience that changed the course of your life or set you on a different track?

What are you most proud of? How would you like to be remembered?