“During my time at the Area Agency on Aging I have grown in so many ways. While challenging at times I do not think I could have picked a better placement.”
I am completing my final internship at The Area Agency on Aging district 7 in Rio Grande, Ohio. Once my 400-hour internship is completed, I will be a graduate of Ohio University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Child and Family Studies. When I am asked my major and then go on to explain my interest in Gerontology I often get some strange looks. I am assuming that is because the word “child” is included in the title. In reality the Child and Family Studies major has allowed me to study human development from a lifespan perspective. During my senior year I was required to take a class on the development of older adults and from there my interest grew. When I approached AAA7 about an internship opportunity, they also questioned my major and why I would have an interest in gerontology. Once I explained my interest and qualifications I was offered the internship.
During my summer at AAA7 I have been mainly involved in two different projects. The largest part of my summer involved preparing and coaching our Healthy U and Matter of Balance classes. I was trained to become a certified Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM) as well as a Diabetes Self-Management coach. I also received my Matter of Balance coach’s certification. Since completion I have been involved in three Matter of Balance classes and one Diabetes Self-Management. I cannot explain how rewarding it is to see participants take what they are learning in class and apply it to their lives. Matter of Balance is my favorite class to teach because its main take away is that no matter what age or skill level, going just a little beyond the individual’s typical level of physical activity is going to make a difference in their health and well-being. I also enjoy doing the exercises with the participants and seeing them grow stronger each week. One class even decided to begin meeting after the 8-week class was over so they could all continue to do the exercises as a group.
The other project I was involved in was Music and Memory. I was asked to complete a final project for my internship and I decided on a sustainability project for our Music and Memory program. AAA7 has teamed with the Ohio Department of Aging and local partners including the Chillicothe VAMC to participate in a coordinated, statewide approach to provide the Music & Memory program to Veterans and their caregivers in home and community settings. The Ohio Department of Aging with funding from the Administration for Community Living provided the initial dollars to train staff members and get started, but in order to sustain or even expand Music & Memory to additional Veterans and their caregivers, donations of Apple iPod music players (I-Pod shuffles), iTunes gift cards, headphones or cash that can be used to purchase these items is very needed. To acquire these items, I reached out to the local American Legions and VFWs with a donation request letter and a list of “talking points” provided by Music & Memory. It is my hope that they will agree to either donate once a year or organize their own fundraiser to support the sustainability of the program.
During my time at the Area Agency on Aging I have grown in so many ways. While challenging at times I do not think I could have picked a better placement. AAA7 is very rural and covers the largest geographical area of all the AAAs in Ohio. While it is sometimes difficult to bring resources to rural older adults, everyone here works with such passion. It is clear every day when I come into the office that the employees love what they do. With the older adult population predicted to grow in the coming years I feel confident that AAA7 is doing all they can to ensure the wellbeing of seniors living in southern Ohio.