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  1. #1
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    Default Interviewing elderly people

    Hi I have offered to interview/chat to a 101 year old lady and record her memories for the local history society now I have interviewed young and old as a civil servant but really this is new to me. Has anyone got any experience as to how to start off the interview etc. I am getting a bit nervous I love talking to people but obviously I guess it must be very very informal.

  2. #2
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    Hi Jane Gee, I have done a few interviews, mostly people seeking employment at a club I was the Secretary of, I always started by offering a cup of tea or coffee, would make it my self and make small talk as I was doing it.

    then when I was ready to start, I would say I just relax if you can, and you dont have to answer all my questions if you feel uncomfortable with them, get all simple fact first, Name, perhaps age, address and the like, try to make it more of a conversation than a question and answer session, try not to use questions where they can just answer yes or no.


    The more you relax the more they relax and you will soon be having the conversation I thought was best.


    Robert. let me know how you get on.

  3. #3

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    Just chat. Forget about the age and treat the person as a normal adult... If she doesn't understand a question, change the wording. Will a member of her family or one of here friends be there?

    It might be worth doing a bit of research before you go - what is known about her family, for example.

    I have found it useful, as an ice breaker, to ask about trivia - what were the schools like, did she go out to work, that sort of thing. You could complain about modern kids and their phones, and ask what she and her friends played when they were that age. With elderly relatives, I've found that sometimes it helps to get something small wrong (3 siblings when they had 4, that sort of thing) - they love correcting interviewers.

    Interesting project!

  4. #4
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    Thank you Lesley I think its the lady daughters who has suggested we have a chat with her getting background will be wonderful ie was she born and bred in the area etc. I would be interested in what her schooling was like etc an honour to do this really but just nervous.

  5. #5
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    I would write down a list of topics that you like if you get the opportunity to cover. So for example: school - what were lesson like, how big were the classes, how long was the school day, did they get lunch at school etc. What's her earliest memory? How did she hear that WW2 had been declared, and won? What are her memories of that time? What about the Queen's coronation? Does she remember the abdication? What was it like when the NHS was first established?

    Some of those are the things that I wish I had asked my parents, but at when they were alive I wasn't really interested in their early lives.

  6. #6

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    Don't be nervous. She will probably be delighted that you're interested. My neighbour (99) was delighted to talk about the area (said her children had heard all her stories). I found odd pictures of the area from way back when and got her to talk about who lived where, etc...

  7. #7
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    Thank you so much good idea I wish I had asked my parents to write down exactly where they did there training etc for the waf and raf still now I have got to pay for information.

  8. #8

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    "How did you meet your husband/wife?" is always a great question. Can lead to chat about friends, dances etc.

  9. #9
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    If she's at home, you could ask her about any old photos in the room - but being sensitive about how well she can see them.

  10. #10
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    Great Idea, I never asked my parents about their childhood which I now regret, I have two son's and grandchildren who has never aske me about my childhood, so I started writing my memories and added photo's of the my school and places where I grew up, the games I played,

    Marj

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