Michael Wittmann

Youngstown State University

2017

“I have developed a higher level of confidence in my ability as a student and as a professional, and I can’t help but credit my experiences with this program, and day out at the 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference.”

The research project I worked on this semester was on a little thought of topic, which actually occurs daily in nursing homes across the United States and occurred in front of me exactly a year ago.  My topic ‘Enforced Spousal Separation in Long-Term Care’ looks at the issue of dividing aged couples who live in long-term care for mainly medical reasons, but I have witnessed monetary and policy reasons being the cause on occasion.  I completed the entire project at my internship at Copeland Oaks Continuing Care Retirement Community in Sebring, Ohio, and the administrator and COO were interested to see if the separation did have any effects on the couple.

From the start, I wished to take this project to multiple long-term care facilities, with an emphasis on visiting places that are only single purpose such as only having assisted living or skilled nursing.  Due to constraints on time, this was not able to occur and I had to settle on one location.  I would say that was the main disappointment I had with this project as I actually did not have a tough time finding couples at Copeland Oaks, and not many couples said ‘no’ to participating in the interviews.  Taking this project to more long-term care facilities and interviewing more couples on both sides, along with gaining more recognition are my future hopes for this issue.

The 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference far exceeded even my highest expectation.  The professionals of the Gerontology field such as Lynn Ridder of the Alzheimer’s Association were incredibly approachable and extremely willing to converse with students such as myself.  Mr. De Medeiros, husband of the 2017 OAGE Educator of the Year was very impressed with my work and encouraged me to attend graduate school at Miami University, which came as quite a welcomed surprise.  Obviously, I have learned quite a bit of field related material over the last year, but I think most importantly I learned to have confidence in myself and to not be afraid to be heard.  I left the conference extremely proud of having persevered through all the difficult days that came with putting the research project together, and receiving reassurance that my concerns were relevant made it all worth it.  I’m not exactly sure how, but I have developed a higher level of confidence in my ability as a student and as a professional, and I can’t help but credit my experiences with this program, and day out at the 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference.