Gerontology Life Reflection

Life Review Paper: Instructions

(200 points)


Life review is a naturally occurring, universal process consisting of reminiscence, thinking about oneself, and a reconsideration of previous life experiences and their meaning. You will be interviewing an older adult (65 years old or older). The “Life Review Paper” will have two submissions:

  1. Proposal / Script submission
  2. Life Review Paper submission

All submissions will be made via Dropbox under BeachBoard. Your final version submission paper should have a length of maximum 8 pages (do not exceed 8 pages!) Check ourCourse Schedule to see all the submission dates related to this assignment.

At all times each of your submission is typed, double spaced, Times New Roman, font 12, APA 6th ed. citation (in text and as reference.)

Use the grading rubrics related to this assignment as guideline in your writing process. The grading rubric has been created to offer you an idea about how points in your grading process will be distributed. All rubrics are listed at the end of this document.


            Proposal / Script submission:50 points

            Life Review Paper submission: 150 overall points distributed as following:

                        Interview: 30 points

                        Application of Theory: 70 points

                        Reflection: 30points

                        Paper organization, grammar, spelling, APA, etc.: 20 points

Background Information for our Life Review Paper – Why this paper is important for our class?

Life review, as described by Robert Butler, is a naturally occurring, universal mental process prompted by the realization of a foreshortened life expectancy. It potentially proceeds toward a reorganization of the self, including the achievement of such characteristics as wisdom and serenity in the aged. The process consists of reminiscence, thinking about oneself, and a reconsideration of previous life experiences and their meaning.

Butler’s description of the life review process closely parallels Erikson’s last stage of development, which is a dynamic between integrity vs. despair. For some older persons, the process of thinking about the past may lead to depression and obsessive rumination or to life’s successful resolution. Therefore, the life review process holds the potential for the older adult to reach ever-increasing levels of self-awareness. The crucial task of such life review is to evaluate one’s life and accomplishments and to accept the whole, both the good and the difficulties, as all necessarily a part of one’s own individual life. This sense of embracing life confirms that one’s story has been “a meaningful adventure in history.”

The life review process takes place gradually over a period of years for the older person and an interested other person usually assist the older adult by taking an oral history. The history can be taken over a period of several sessions and may be tape recorded. The results are life long-lasting memories, which may be given to the elder and may be shared with younger family members.

Instructions on how to conceptualize / writeyour Life Review Paper

Before you will start writing your Life Review Paper, you will need to complete and submit via Dropbox the “Proposal / Script” submission. This submission will be graded, and feedback will be provided for it. Only after this submission is graded you can start working on your paper.

The Proposal portion is a proposal of how you will complete this assignment.  Before you decide what questions you will want to ask your interviewee, you must first write two to three paragraphs stating what you will want to learn from this assignment.

For The Scriptportion you will need to come up with a series of questions (script) that you will want to ask the elder adult you are interviewing. These questions should cover the history of the person’s life and capture the essence of who the elder adult is.  These questions should also help you assess the older adult using a theory model. While developing the questions, you will have in mind the BioPsychoSocial theoretical approach you will use to assess the older adult. There is not a specific number of questions you should come up with, but a good set of questions for a paper of this caliber will round on average about 10-15 questions. The questions should be derived from our course concepts such as chronic disease, biology of aging, love and intimacy, social interactions, living arrangements, economic security, productive aging, retirement, death and dying, etc.,yet as theory application only Biopsychosocial is addressed.

As previously stated, only after the “Proposal / Script” submission is graded, you can start working on your paper. In writing this paper, try to think of yourself being a qualitative researcher. Therefore, in this process you have the chance to design your research study, to conduct your own case study, and later on to discuss its results. So by the first submission (Proposal / Script) you actually get to design your case research study!

Life Review Paper submission will include The Interview, Theory Application, and Reflection.

The Interview is the telling of the story of the life of the elder you interviewed. This section is written as Q& A (question and answer) format. The answer will be given as descriptive paragraph; you need to show descriptive skills (example is provided on page 3).

Recommendations on how to conduct your interview

Begin by briefly expressing your interest in learning about the elder’s life and set an appointment for a convenient time and place where the interview will take place. Explain that you will use this interview as a class assignment and ask for permission from the older person at this time to share the interview with your professor/class.

            Interview your subject in a quiet private location;it is recommended that no others are present during the interview. You can use a recorder device to register the interview process and your subject’s answers. By recording the interview rather than taking notes, it will give you the chance to focus on other types communications such as body language, facial expression, etc. which will help with your descriptive skills while writing your paper. Make sure the elder is comfortable and you are seated in a position to be heard (you could also maintain eye contact if in the elder’s cultural background eye contact is a form of being polite.) Allow adequate time for the interview but do not prolong more than two sessions.

            After conducting the interview, you will then write up the questions and answers to the interview in paragraph format. When writing up the interview be as descriptive as possible. You must use critical thinking skills to make the experience flow and you want to allow the reader to feel as if they experienced the interview for themselves. Thus meaning do not just simply state I asked her if she was married and she replied her husband died 7 years ago. Instead describe the reactions and report in descriptive detail. For example: As we sat near the window a cool breeze came in the room, she grabbed her blanket around her shoulder and pulled it tightly to warm herself. I asked Mrs. Hudson if she had ever been married, adding a smile to soften the question. She replied:“I was married for 42 years to the love of my life, Charles”. She paused, it seemed for an eternity, and then continued, “… he passed away 7 years ago and I think of him each day.  Be sure to use descriptive words and transitions to make this portion of the paper flow.

Application of Theory. This portion allows you to coin our leaned course material to your case study life experiences. In this section, you must incorporate what you learned from the interview to class lecture and the course’s readings. You need to state and define BioPsychosocial approach used in your assessment, as well as describing how the components of wellness areidentifiable in your interviewee’s life to describe his/hers wellness at the time of interview. In here, you will want to show course concepts’ application to the interview and you can relate to class lectures and readings. Don’t forget: whenever you cite a source you need to give the appropriate APA reference.

Reflection. Here you should reflect on what you learned from this assignment. In two pages briefly describe what you learned from this assignment. Address elements not only learned from the elder adult, but also the interview processes and application of course concepts. Moreover, state what you learned from this writing process. Describe what you would have done different through this processes and explain why. Also briefly describe your own personal reactions associated with one’s own aging process.

A final note:

This is not only a writing assignment. It is also designed to give you experience with interviewing skills. This is a case study – a qualitative research project of a single case. Give it your best effort and you will learn something valuable by listening to a real life story.

The Life Review Interview should present a full picture of your subject’s life. Details help. To accomplish this, you will need to be an engaged listener, involving yourself in the person’s story, and not just completing a class assignment. You may need to interview the person twice, going back for more detailed answers in areas that interest you. At times, you may need to rephrase some of the questions to make them better understood.

You may need to prompt the older adult, using such phrases as “tell me more,” “I think I understand, you were…” etc. Do not force the person to go into detail on a particular topic if he/she is really uncomfortable!

Allow the interviewee to talk about what interests him/her, BUT move him/her along so you can have a story that covers the whole life. You can get the interview moving along by saying things like, “I would like to hear more on that later if we have time. Now, I’d like to ask you about…”

A tape recorder really helps you to get the most out of the interview; however, it is not mandatory.

Rubric: Proposal / Script

CriteriaExceeds ExpectationsMeets ExpectationsApproaches ExpectationsDo not meet expectations
  The Learning Proposal / The Script50 points
-Interesting and compelling questions; depth of meaningful connections made to course concepts; evidence of thorough analysis, reflection and insight for interview questions
35-49 points
-Competent and well-developed questions; adequate connections made; average level of planning and organizing interview questions  
15-34 points
-Main ideas are indirectly supported; insufficient, non-specific, and/or irrelevant questions; repetition; lack of originality or creativity  
0- 14 points
-Central questions are missing or not discernible; little or no evidence of planning, reflection or insight for interview questions  

More Information on Life Review Paper submission

The final submission of Life Review Paper’s length should not exceed 8 pages without cover page and reference page! (However, I do understand sometimes comprising all of your ideas in 8 pages might not be enough. Regardless of how much you would like to write about your subject, please resume your paper to NO MORE than 10 pages and that’s the maximum possible!).

So, 8 pages is the requirement but if you exceed up to 10 pages you will not be penalized. If you decide to go over 10 pages, please note only the first 10 paged will be taken in consideration for grading purposes.  

The Interview: (50 points)

  1. Your interview should not exceed 4 pages. I know you want to add all 30-50 asked questions…but there are not enough pages to do so. However, as a researcher you will pick the most relevant 5-10 questions that will be added under this portion paper – you will pick the most relevant questions from all the asked domains. All the other answers you received will be used as backup information in your Theory Application portion. In case if you would like to transcribe the entire interview then you will add it after the Reference page and you will call this part/section “Appendix”.  
  2. The interview will follow the Q & A format and will show your descriptive skills (no bullet points!)

Theory Application: 70 points 

  1. Define BioPsychoSocial Approach (BPS) – 10 points
  2. Tell how/when/who coined the term (5 points)
  3. Show clear application of BPS based on your chosen interviewed subject. In here you will not only exemplify how all 3 life dimensions (social, psychological, biological) interact based on your case study, but will show the middle intersection of all 3 aspects. (40 points)
  4. You will support your argument with outside/inside sources, concepts covered in class, etc.  (15 points)
  5. This paper portion’s show critical thinking skills (10 points)
  6. This paper portion’s length should not exceed 3 pages

Reflection: (30 points)

  1. This paper portion should not exceed more than 1-1 ½  pages
  2. Briefly describe what you learned from this assignment. Address elements not only learned from the elder adult, but also the interview processes and application of course concepts. Moreover, state what you learned from this writing process. Describe what you would have done different through this processes and explain why. Also briefly describe your own personal reactions associated with one’s own aging process.
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