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Mar 19th, 2015
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You are a visiting in-home volunteer with a program called "Checking In." You are scheduled to visit with Luz, a 75 year old Cuban widow living in a large retirement community with a mostly Jewish/Caucasian population. You notice that her hair is nicely styled, her makeup is done well, and she is dressed in a tasteful blouse and matching slacks. She is seated in a rented wheelchair she uses to get around in her home because she is unable to walk more than a few feet at a time. Luz's nails are shaped and painted and you notice that as she speaks, she gestures grandly from time to time, as if for emphasis.

After you greet her and the two of you are comfortable, you ask how she is today. Luz begins crying, blotting a tissue to her eyes and nose and tells you she is "so lonely." The agency file shows she has family living in the area but when you ask her about them she quickly tells you, "I don't speak to my brother anymore. We had a fight several years ago and I want nothing to do with him. I don't talk to my son because he married that harlot. I won't have low class people in my life." As she says this last phrase, Luz makes a spitting gesture to the side.

When you ask her about friends, Luz tells you, "I have no one. I feel so sad and so alone." Luz again begins to cry. "I am afraid I will die alone. I don't want to be so alone." You notice an open address book beside her phone with names of several residents in the retirement community. When you ask her about it, she is silent for a few minutes, clasping her hands together, not meeting your gaze, and finally whispers, "They're all liars and thieves. I don't speak to any of them." Luz again falls silent. You match her silence to give her a moment to compose herself.

Luz suddenly starts to wipe the table near her clean with a clean tissue and gestures around the room as if in disgust. She begins to complain loudly about the various aides that come to clean and cook and assist her with her bathing and daily care. "They never do things the way I like them, and they cook all their 'ethnic' food. Why can't they send me a nice Cuban girl instead of all these Haitians and Jamaicans?"

  • What parts of Luz's story do you find most significant? Why do these parts stand out for you?
  • How does Luz's nonverbal communication agree or disagree with her verbal communication? Does her affect match the emotion she is conveying? Why or why not?


“We listen for the behaviors, feelings, thoughts, context, and meanings that constitute the client’s story.” (Murphy & Dillon, 2010, pg. 112) The part of Luz’s story that I found most shocking is the fact that she does not speak to any of her family, especially her son. The reason I found this most shocking is that, that is her son! She should not, not speak to him because of the woman he married, but instead be happy he found his special someone. I also find it interesting that she does not speak to her brother because of a fight several years before. All of the older peoples that I know have always put the past behind them and “move on with their lives,” but Luz does not seem to be able/want to do that.

  Another thing I found interesting was her discontent with the services the aides are giving her. I do not understand how someone can be so picky/ungrateful. Don’t get me wrong I understand that they are from different ethnic groups/cultures, but at least someone is there, willing to help since she wants nothing to do with her relatives that live nearby.

  With what Luz is saying about being lonely to her nonverbal cues (body language, gestures, and emotions), they do not match up. She is complaining about being lonely and crying about it, but then goes on to saying she does not get along with any of her close relatives nor does she like any of the other residents in the retirement community. She says all these things about the way the community is, but says she is lonely. There are so many things she could do to rid herself of the loneliness, but does seem to want to do anything about it.

Murphy, B. C., & Dillon, C. (2010). Interviewing in Action in a Multicultural World, 4e, 4th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/1111792550


Luz story is very significant. The part that stood out to me the most is she takes very good care of herself on the outside, but that's just her appearance. On the inside she is lonely. It is almost like all the makeup and the nice hair style and the perfect nails is a cover up so she feels a little better about herself. It also is crazy that she has friends in the community, but doesn't want anything to do with them. She had a fight with her brother years ago and they still don't speak. I would really like to dig deeper and figure out what occurred between them. She also has high standards because she doesn't speak to her due to whom he married. She is a very complex woman with many different levels. She even has me questioning if the reason she acts this way has anything to do with her cultural beliefs. She seems very stuck in her ethnic ways.
Her nonverbal communication agrees with her verbal communication. She talks with gestures to emphasize what she is saying. She spits off to the side to show her disgust for her sons girlfriend. She looks around the room to show you that she isn't happy with the services she is being provided. She also gets silent when talking about something that bothers her, almost like she needs a minute to compose herself. She matches her emotion because during the interview she cries multiple times. 

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