Jordan Stengel

Jordan Stengel

Jordan Stengel

Kent State University
Jennings Center for Older Adults

Spring 2016

“Ohio Scholars in Aging has given me a unique perspective on state government and a better appreciation of how policy is created.”

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.

Todd Simmons

Todd Simmons

Todd Simmons

Cleveland State University
Benjamin Rose Adult Day Program

Spring 2016

“This provided me with valuable information and ideas on how to engage and intervene with caregivers.”

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.

Todd Simmons

Evan Shelton

Evan Shelton

Cleveland State University
Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

Spring 2016

“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 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.

Erin Scott

Erin Scott

Erin Scott

Cedarville University
Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter

Spring 2016

“I found the Ohio Scholars in Aging program to be a tremendous opportunity to gain knowledge about polices that affect seniors.”

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.

Karis Rooney

Karis Rooney

Karis Rooney

John Carroll University
Senior Citizen Resources, Inc.

Spring 2016

“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.”

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.

Lois Robinson

Lois Robinson

Lois Robinson

Ohio University

Spring 2016

“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.”

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.