Resources for Families Facing Alzheimer’s Disease
Kimberly VanCamp, MSG
Healthcare Initiatives Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association – St. Louis Chapter
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Jones Hall, Room 1303
Faculty, staff, students, and the general public are invited.
Perceptions of Older Persons
The report of an annual survey to chart the perceptions toward older persons, among a sample of students entering the College in Fall 2013, by Fangzheng Yuan is available in the September Pharmakon.
A link to a more extensive report is available on the ORA Research Projects page.
Geriatric Medication Game© at SLU Summer Institute
Faculty members from the Liberal Arts and Pharmacy Practice Departments joined to facilitate play of the Geriatric Medication Game© at the St .Louis Summer Geriatric Institute in early June. More than 20 participants at the Institute, including physicians, nurses, therapists, case managers and social workers had “fun” and learned some of the difficulties encountered by older persons trying to navigate our country’s health care systems.
The ORA: Focus on Healthy Aging
The founders of our Office for Research on Aging were inspired by the National Senior Olympic Games. Literally. St. Louis College of Pharmacy faculty members joined forces nearly 25 years ago to study the characteristics of athletes 50 years old and older who competed in the biennial multi-sport competition, held for the first time in St. Louis in 1987 and again in 1989: What were the fitness regimens of these senior athletes? Their leisure activities? Their reasons for competing? Our research developed the concept of “competitive health,” a perspective in which seniors express their own good health through comparisons to peers or stereotypes—and prompted us to formally establish STLCOP’s Office for Research on Aging (ORA) in 1993.
Aging in place. There’s a lot that goes into life satisfaction among older adults. We’ve examined common senior community activities—including volunteer work and religious behavior—to understand their psychological and social effects on older adults. We’re also seeking to understand the perspective of older people by studying their photographs for indicators as to what it’s like to age in their particular communities.Now the ORA conducts research about older people in general, while teaching health care professionals about the perspectives of the elderly and serving as a resource for information on older adults and aging. Driven by such far-reaching concerns, our research covers a lot of ground. We examine the physiological aspects of aging as well as the psychological, social, and cultural dimensions of growing older. We conduct basic scientific, as well as clinical research, with a focus on:
- Perceptions of older adults. We want to know how students perceive older adults, as well. Each year, the ORA conducts a survey of first-years designed to elicit their perceptions of seniors, while checking in with fifth-year students to see whether their view of seniors has changed during their time at STLCOP.
- Age-related dementia. Among our ongoing projects is a gerontological research program we sponsor in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) of Washington University. Through this program, a selected second-year STLCOP student develops and submits a dementia-related research project to the ADRC. Once a mentorship with an ADRC researcher is agreed upon, the student works with the ADRC mentor on the project and develops it over the next couple years.
We’re working as well to disseminate the knowledge we uncover at the ORA through our Geriatric Medication Game©, an educational role-playing activity in which the players assume the identity of an older person. The game acquaints students in various health careers—including those in STLCOP’s Professional Communications course—with the issues and challenges older adults face as they navigate our health care system, and typically increases students’ sympathy and understanding.
We also serve as a resource for researchers interested in setting up a gerontological study or seeking information on older adults. ORA holds lectures open to the public each fall and spring, and publishes a newsletter called The Office Report.