The Search for Information
This chapter will continue the discussion begun in the previous chapter, in which the interpersonal information world of retired women was examined. The focus here will be more specifically on the formal sources of information routinely used by the women in response to some need or concern. This chapter is divided into three sections. The first section concerns general sources of information that are used. The second section looks at the use of the public library, and the final section explores sources of advice provided by Garden Towers.
In order to discover what sorts of information the women were searching for, I asked if they had asked anyone for information within the past month. Most of the women (22, 40%) replied that they were "pretty independent," able to "pretty much work things out on my own," were "making a go of it," and "not into asking other people for advice." The latter respondent continued, "I . . . and . . . other people too, will do whatever they want. Getting advice or giving it won't matter very much." However, 16 (29%) said that they had asked for advice pertaining to health related concerns. Six (11%) wanted general information, such as how to replace a lost key, places that are safe to visit in the neighborhood, "good places to eat," and everyday tidbits. One respondent commented, "That's the way I learn. I'm not that smart. So I can ask people. It's a way to educate myself." Six (11%) also were experiencing financial worries, three (5%) wanted some advice about improving their apartments, one (2%) needed assistance regarding loneliness, and one (2%) respondent had a personal family crisis.
I also asked the women where they went to seek the information they needed. As expected, 22 (40%) said they drew upon experience; 19 (34%) said they went to family members, particularly if the problem was a personal or financial matter; 11 (20%) said they asked a professional caretaker, such as a doctor or a lawyer; and 3 (6%) said they sought advice from neighbors.