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Airdate: Apr 12, 2017
Scientist: Karen Roberto

Rethinking Elder Care - It Starts With a Conversation

Rethinking Elder Care - It Starts With a Conversation
Our population of elder citizens is growing, along with the issues confronting them.

Rethinking Elder Care - It Starts with a Conversation

About 14% of our population is 65 years and older. That percentage is growing, and so are the issues older people are facing. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Roberto: My research really focuses on how older adults manage in everyday lives. I'm just very interested in particular about older adults who have health problems. And how do they navigate their world, whether that be their homes and their physical worlds and relationships with family and friends.

Karen Roberto is a university distinguished professor of gerontology at Virginia Tech.

Roberto: When I think about the surprises in my research, I think it really is how resilient older adults are. The fact that they do oftentimes face adversity and yet have multiple solutions for overcoming those issues.
My research really takes place in the homes and communities in which older adults live. I started out doing a lot of door to door interviews with older people who would talk to me about what their daily lives are like.
Sometimes it's very structured and we have a very specific set of questions. But a lot of times, it's much more conversational. Because people will open up more and tell you more about their lives if we can have a conversation.
We gather a lot of stories, till we start hearing the same things. And then we really analyze the narrative or what they say to us. It's a very intensive process. Very long hours of reading transcripts. Oftentimes we record the conversations.

Karen Roberto's conversations have yielded some sobering facts about aging in America. We'll hear more in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.