2016 Spring Student Scholars

Recognition of Spring 2016 Scholars in Aging 

Presenters: Marc Molea and Amy Plant


Nichole Davenport Bowling Green State University
Tiffany Epps The Ohio State University
Daniel Farley Shawnee State University
Rebecca Fensler Wright State University
Dana Hinebaugh Shawnee State University
Morgan Liddic Miami University
Lois Robinson Ohio University
Karis Rooney John Carroll University
Erin Scott Cedarville University
Evan Shelton Cleveland State University
Todd Simmons Cleveland State University
Jordan Stengel Kent State University
Antoneia Ward Sinclair Community College
Claire Wilt Sinclair Community College

Experience Papers, Spring 2016 Ohio Scholars in Aging Program

Tiffany Epps, The Ohio State University

In my last semester as a Nurse Practitioner student, I completed seven weeks in an outpatient neurology clinic. The majority of hours were completed in the neurology clinic and where I completed the internship project. The second seven weeks were in home health care. Both placements were set through the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University.

For my project, I researched sleep disorders among the multiple sclerosis (MS) population. It was meant to be educational to health care providers and show that sleep disorders are more prevalent, yet underdiagnosed among MS patients. Sleep disorders that go untreated can lead to more health problems. I recommended a six question screening tool to be administered every year and when someone is diagnosed with MS. The neurology clinic was interested in this topic because MS is a neurology disorder treated in the clinic. It reinforced patient centered care and quality of life, which are two fundamental concepts in health care. The biggest challenge I faced was determining what recommendations to make to the clinic. The next step, I would trial the screening tool in a clinical setting to assess if screening improved or not.

I am very happy that I participated in the Ohio Scholars in Aging program and hope more people in the health care field get involved. I learned about a number of programs offered through the Ohio Department of Aging that I will recommend and discuss with patients regardless of where I practice. Steady U, Healthy U and nutrition programs are a few of the programs I discussed with patients in home health care. I plan to apply for an NP job in a long term care setting. I will reach out to family members and caregivers to assist and make them aware of resources through the Department of Aging.

Daniel Farley, Shawnee State University

My name is Daniel Farley, and I conducted my internship at Kingsbrook Lifecare Center. Being accepted into the Ohio Scholars of Aging was an honor and an overall great experience. I highly recommend anyone in the aging field to apply to this program. You will meet great people, make connections in the field, and learn new things at each meeting. I am an Administrator in Training at Kingsbrook. My internship thus far has led me to numerous departments and learning how each part of a facility operates. So far I’ve had the luxury of being with Medical Records, Admissions, Dietary, Environmental Services, Finance, Social Services, and Activities. Each department is an integral part of a nursing home, and it is an amazing experience to be involved with it. The Ohio Scholars in Aging program has made me aware of so many more topics in the aging community than I thought possible. I have been fortunate to learn all of these new topics so that one day when I am an administrator of a nursing home, I can implement them. Not only will I be able to implement such things, but just having the knowledge that such programs exist is invaluable.

To anyone that has any interest in the aging community or is looking for a career in the field, I implore you to join the Ohio Scholars in Aging. The information you will learn is invaluable, not to mention all of the great people you will meet.

Dana Hinebaugh, Shawnee State University

It has been such a privilege to be a part of such a great organization and I am very thankful for the opportunity. I have learned a lot about myself, the Ohio Department of Aging, and the dire need for change in regulations and policies directly affecting the rapidly aging population. Through the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program, I have learned how the Ohio Department of Aging is multi-faceted, and has various divisions within the organization, which are responsible for seeing that the older adult population is receiving and has access to the services they so desperately need. I also met so many great people who share the same passion I have for older adults. Those relationships have been so important to me and will last the rest of my life. From this experience, I am considering ways in which I can get involved in advocating for and representing older adults, whether it be working for ODA, AAA etc.

From my clinical experiences, I have learned the value of and importance of what I was doing at each different site. I think my experience has been especially unique because of the area and population I served. The population I served was in the rural Appalachia region of southern Ohio. It is a very underserved and impoverished area. I feel very fortunate to provide free, yet necessary, services. It has been a very rewarding yet challenging experience. From the multiple experiences I had, I learned the importance of communication and teamwork across various settings in which older adults reside. These included older driver safety and community mobility, fall prevention, home modification, aging in place, and dementia care. From participating in my clinicals as well as the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program, I have learned valuable information which I will carry with me throughout my career and the rest of my life.

Morgan Liddic, Miami University

My internship took place at the Butler County Care Facility in Hamilton, OH. My focus there was to implement an activity program that would specifically target the residents living in the memory care unit. Due to the shortage in activity staff and the age of the facility, innovation and creativity were extremely important when choosing an activity for these residents. This led me to the certified Music & Memory program where I took the initial steps in introducing the program at the facility. I contacted the Music & Memory Program, attended webinars, interviewed residents, reached out to community groups for iPod donations, downloaded music onto computers, and created a resource binder with information to help maintain the program. Butler County Care facility was interested in bringing Music & Memory to its facility because they wanted to have a special program dedicated to their memory patients. They also realized the effect that music therapy can have on those who are cognitively impaired and wanted to hopefully improve the quality of life for some of their residents. The project stayed very consistent throughout my internship. I did face an initial obstacle with difficulties contacting the Music & Memory program. After those were resolved I also was disappointed that I couldn’t interview more residents and that iPod donations that were requested were never actually brought in.

The work I’ve done on the project has enabled me to enhance my professional development skills, become more comfortable working with residents of all abilities, and become a quick problem solver. Along with being able to present at the OAGE conference, I have been able to showcase myself to graduate school programs as someone who has hands-on experience and a great work ethic. What I learned the most about participating in my internship with Music & Memory was that even those with significantly low cognitive or physical abilities can find meaningful activities to fill their life. While listening to music seems like a simple task, it is a wonderful tool to stimulate brain activity and decrease depression in those with dementia. My internship and the Ohio Scholars in Aging program have really taught me how to work with diverse groups of people and how to present myself as a passionate gerontologist.

Nichole A. Davenport, Bowling Green State University

I completed my internship in Toledo, Ohio with the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter. The Alzheimer’s Association is a phenomenal non-profit organization that provides services to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementias. Throughout my internship experience, my project was to work in the marketing department and work on the Spring Gala. The agency was interested in me working on the Gala because they wanted me to gain marketing experience aside from my current caregiving role, and be able to help them with this event in the future. This project to work on the Gala required me to contact various businesses and companies via email and telephone to ask for donations for our silent auction at the Gala. This experience helped me gain communication skills with other professionals as well as gain professional confidence. Aside from contacting these businesses, I also had to fill out necessary paperwork, track all the donations coming in and their values, update the paperwork daily, arrange and put together donated baskets of goods, and of course, attend and work the event. Not only was the event a great experience for me professionally, but I also had a wonderful time. It was so rewarding to see how great the Gala turned out and knowing that I played a major role in the success. Because of my hard work and professionalism, I was complimented by my colleagues and those who attended the event, and I was asked to join the Chapter’s Walk and Gala committees to help them with these events in the future.

Participating in the Ohio Scholars Program was such an honor. It was a great networking opportunity, resume-builder, and learning experience for all involved. I would highly recommend this program to other students as it will truly be beneficial to one’s future.

Lois Robinson, Ohio University

Firstly, I would just like to say thank you to the Ohio Department of Aging, the Ohio Association of Gerontology, Mr. Marc Molea, and to the various other support staff who made this amazing opportunity possible for the other scholars and me. I think that I can speak for everyone and say that we are all very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such an enlightening, and informational Internship during the spring semester. I really enjoyed learning about the many aspects of aging, and I think that it was very cool to have what we have learned about in our academic careers be applied to everyday life. I think that while learning about something is fun, it becomes more real when you have the opportunity to visually see, and discuss with professionals in the field of Gerontology like we did over the course of our internship.

While the connections that I have made are very valuable within the program, the biggest thing that I take away from our internship experience is the friendships that I have made within the Ohio Scholars in Aging program. My major is Long Term Care Administration, and it is a very small major so it was just so heartwarming to know that there are other people out there who have the same passion for the elderly as I do. While I am sad that the program has ended, I will always appreciate the knowledge and friendships that I have made as a 2016 Spring Intern.

Karis Rooney, John Carroll University

I completed my semester’s work at a local agency called Senior Citizen Resources, Inc. (SCR). The agency is located in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, right outside the city of Cleveland. SCR is a community-based senior center that provides a variety of resources to older adults to help them live independently for as long as possible. Services like transportation, social services, home-delivered meals, congregate meals and social activities are provided to seniors at low costs.

My focus this semester was primarily on SCR’s annual Senior Olympics event. Every year, SCR collaborates with community partners to schedule, plan and host a local Senior Olympics. Both regular and seated games are played, and seniors can choose to compete in any and every event they choose. Other than being a fun event, the Olympics encourages physically active lifestyles and healthy, successful aging. Physical activity in older adulthood is just one of many steps older adults can take to remain independent in their communities, so the Olympics is just one of many activities encouraging Old Brooklyn’s seniors to remain physically active and healthy.

I mainly worked on the administrative side of the Olympics. A few of the issues I encountered were related to information flow, unfamiliarity with the event and communication with community partners/volunteers to help make our event a success. Despite communication difficulties and busy schedules, I was able to learn a lot about the Old Brooklyn neighborhood through the partnerships and support provided by local partners. One of my main goals with both my internship and participation in the Ohio Scholars in Aging program was to determine if the aging field is a setting I would like to focus my long-term career goals around. Not only was I able to confirm my long-term goals, but I have been able to meet many dedicated people who share my passion for connecting with and serving the older adult community.

Erin Scott, Cedarville University

As an undergraduate intern at the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter, I was able to participate in many different ways. I was involved with the 24/7 helpline and care consultation levels 1 and 2. I represented the chapter at health fairs, compiled program information, researched intergenerational programming, and participated in advocacy and fundraising.

Specifically as a helpline volunteer, I answered calls, provided assistance to families and triaged cases to pass on to the full time social workers or the graduate student interns. I received many of my own cases from answering helpline calls. I also documented these calls in the Association’s database.

As a care consultant, I worked closely with families and their loved ones. I provided supportive listening, and helped assess what assistance the family may need. I also assisted with problem solving, goal setting and met with entire families to discuss their situation.

I had the opportunity to attend multiple health fairs and represent the Alzheimer’s Association. It was a wonderful way to interact with community members and explain what services are available. During health fairs, I was able to talk one on one with individuals and learn more about their connection to the disease. I also had the opportunity to share some of the statistics on Alzheimer’s.

Dementia Q&A is a newer education program at the Association. It is a free event for community members to ask questions they have about Alzheimer’s disease. I helped record the questions asked and assisted in compiling them to determine what was asked most frequently.

In addition, I was able to advocate for individuals with Alzheimer’s throughout my time at the Association. I wrote a letter to the state legislators to explain what services we provide for their constituents. I also helped gather support through signature cards so the Association could show congressmen how important finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is to their voters.

This semester, I researched the topic of intergenerational programming. I also visited a local program in Yellow Springs. With the knowledge I gained about intergenerational programming, I wrote a short article for the Miami Valley Chapter weekly newsletter.

Finally, I had the opportunity to learn how a non-profit is funded. I worked during one of the largest fundraisers for the Association: The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Recently, I talked with several store owners about participating in the Longest Day fundraiser which is held in June. It has been a valuable learning experience to see how important it is to build meaningful relationships with individuals and organizations.

My internship at the Alzheimer’s Association was an incredible experience. I was able to be involved in many different aspects of the organization and gained experience working with seniors and their loved ones. This experience confirmed my love for the senior population and their unique generational needs. As a result, I am looking forward to pursuing a career in gerontology.

I found the Ohio Scholars in Aging program to be a tremendous opportunity to gain knowledge about polices that affect seniors. I learned about both statewide and local programs available for seniors and their families. The program enabled me to grow as a student and gave me key experience in networking. This experience will be helpful as I consider pursuing a career in advocacy. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Ohio Scholars in Aging program and would highly recommend this program to any student who is interested in gerontology.

Evan Shelton, Cleveland State University

During the Spring 2016 semester, I had the opportunity to work at the Center for Research and Education at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. Having completed my coursework in the Adult Development and Aging PhD program at CSU, Benjamin Rose offered me this fellowship as an opportunity to engage in applied research in aging while working on my dissertation. During this fellowship, I worked on three projects: SHARE, Heart Health, and Music & Memory. Each of these projects is in a different stage of the research process, and engaging in the different developmental and dissemination tasks within each project has been valuable in learning about the applied research process as a whole.

The SHARE project is in the dissemination phase. I have had the opportunity to write a manuscript, and co-author a second manuscript based on the findings from the SHARE Project. SHARE is a care planning intervention for persons with dementia and their family caregiver. The intervention aims to open a dialogue about care values and preferences between care partners, provide education about what to expect over the course of the disease, and to assist dyads with finding resources that might be beneficial to them. The manuscript that I am writing uses baseline data to examining the psychosocial ramifications of incongruent care preferences across the dyad. There are some especially interesting findings with regard to actual incongruences compared to perceived (i.e., the caregiver’s belief that his/her preferences are different from the person with dementia’s) preferences. I was able to present this research at the Cleveland State University Research Day conference.

The Heart Health project is moving from a pilot study phase to a second study. The goal of the Heart Health program is to provide quality education and behavior change opportunities to low income older African Americans attending two urban senior centers. This population is at a substantially greater risk for heart disease and related disorders. This intervention aims to prevent/delay the onset of these chronic conditions by promoting heart-healthy behavior. I had the opportunity to co-author a feasibility/acceptability paper, collect T2 data from participants, and I am currently helping to revise the study materials and design for the next iteration of the Heart Health program.

The Music & Memory program is a program aimed at using personalized music to improve the lives of persons with dementia living in the community. Benjamin Rose received a grant through the ODA to roll-out this program in the community, and asked me to be involved. I felt that the program would be a great fit for my dissertation research, and have been undertaking the task of proposing a dissertation to my committee at Cleveland State. The goal of my dissertation would be to apply a rigorous methodological approach to evaluating the effects of music and memory on the quality of life, behaviors, engagement, and care relationship of the person with dementia. This study would be a randomized-controlled trial that would hopefully fit within the timeframe of the ODA grant deadline and provide an opportunity to inform the non-pharmacological intervention in dementia literature about the value of personalized music in dementia.

Todd Simmons, Cleveland State University

This semester, I am completing the Master’s in Social Work program at Cleveland State University. My field practicum has taken place at the Benjamin Rose Adult Day Program, which provides adult day services for older persons with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive and functional impairments. Activities include arts and crafts, current events, fine and gross motor activities, games, horticulture, and musical activities.

Although my area of concentration is gerontology, and despite my extensive work and volunteer experience with older adults, this was my first opportunity to engage with this segment of the elder population. Beginning fieldwork required considerable research, and I tried to learn as much as I could about persons with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as the symptoms and stages of various cognitive impairment. The majority of social work literature involves practice with the caregivers of these individuals, as their role will take on growing importance as the disease and symptoms progress.

Early on, caregivers became the focus of my internship. My role at the agency provided some newfound flexibility, and my field instructor, Crystal Wallace, ADP Assistant Director, was eager to reconnect with the caregivers of the clients at the Day Program. In recognition of November as “National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month” and “National Caregivers Month,” my planned project became to help resurrect the Day Program’s caregiver support group. This initiative involved creating a monthly caregiver newsletter, as well as other various outreach efforts.

One significant obstacle proved to be that the time clients spend at the program serves as a time of respite for the caregivers. My involvement with support group activities was limited due to my restrictive hours at the internship, which took place during regular business hours. Common feedback from caregivers was they would have liked to be more involved, but their respite time was necessary to take care of chores and errands, or simply time to take care of themselves.

Among the numerous opportunities was attending a caregiver conference at Benjamin Rose. This provided me with valuable information and ideas on how to engage and intervene with caregivers. As coursework influenced fieldwork, and vice versa, I was able to share my experiences and newly gained knowledge with my fellow students. The launch of the “Music & Memory” pilot program provided another opportunity, as caregiver involvement is necessary and crucial. I must also credit my field instructor for informing me about the Ohio Scholars in Aging program. The benefits of which are too vast to list, yet involvement in the group reinforced how important inter-professional collaboration is to the field of aging. It has also demonstrated the attention given to issues of “Caregiver Awareness” and “Music & Memory” at the state, county, and local levels.

Jordan Stengel, Kent State University

I completed my Ohio Scholars in Aging internship at Jennings Center for Older Adults as part of an Administrator-in-Training program. During my internship I completed a variety of projects and worked in every department to get a feel for all the roles that are associated with running a nursing home. In addition to the nursing home I participated in the operation of home health, hospice, independent living, assisted living, and our adult day center. This has been a rewarding experience and ultimately led to my employment with Jennings at the end of the internship.

The most rewarding project I’ve worked on at Jennings has been our Small House project. Small House is both an architectural style of facility and a philosophy that makes long term care feel less institutional by creating an environment that feels like home. This philosophy is consistent with the person centered mission of the organization and so we’re constructing three Small House memory care assisted living homes near Chardon, OH. My biggest role in their development has been in maintaining the integrity of the concept. The idea was in place before I arrived, but my role in the project began with researching the concept and then selling it to the administration. I’ve done this by arranging meetings with providers who have already chosen this method for their own organizations, recruiting a consultant to help with implementation, finding funding for the initial start-up costs, and creating an ideal staffing model based on published research as well as the advice of experts in the field. As a result of these efforts we plan to break ground on the Small Houses in summer 2016 and have them open by summer 2017.

Thanks to the long struggle of other providers to get the Small House model approved by the state, I was fortunate not to have to lobby for a change in the code, but Ohio Scholars in Aging has given me a unique perspective on state government and a better appreciation of how policy is created.