Harper Smith

Harper Smith

Harper Smith

Bowling Green State University
2019

“I created the Otterbein Bins program which provides structured activities, resident recommendations, and communication tips that are personalized to the resident population. ”

My experience as one of the Ohio Scholars in Aging has been truly life changing. Through the multiple meetings in Columbus, I was able to better determine the career path I intend to take in order to best serve older adults. Without the opportunities provided by Ohio Scholars in Aging, I would not understand my role in the gerontology field. My social work philosophy has benefitted from exposure to Dementia legislation, the Village Model, and the Age Friendly Columbus project. I am now able to clearly articulate the ways in which I will help older adults and respect the choices they make. My philosophy reads, “It is my calling to provide compassion and empowerment during the process of aging. I place significance on the experience of individuals and will do all in my power to honor their wishes throughout the aging process. I value dignity of the individual, consensus in decision making, and promotion of the least restrictive environment for older adults. I can be expected to hold space for those whose voices are not being heard through active listening and shared responsibility in the relationship. I will provide the necessary knowledge and resources to individuals and their social support networks to empower them to make informed choices based upon personal values.” I hope to start a Village during my career to further implement my philosophy; an idea I would not have developed without the Ohio Scholars in Aging program.

My internship at Otterbein, Pemberville has given me a clear picture of what management of a Continuing Care Retirement Community can look like and I am grateful for the time I have spent there. Determining a need within the facility was a challenge and took many different project ideas, but eventually I identified a project pulling from my volunteer experience at other facilities. Often, volunteers are made to figure it out as they go with little support from staff. While I didn’t feel this way at Otterbein, I wanted to relieve some of the work that supporting a volunteer takes. I created the Otterbein Bins program which provides structured activities, resident recommendations, and communication tips that are personalized to the resident population. A volunteer can pick from 4 boxes with different crafts or activities and take it back to the assisted living wing. The program is intended to increase volunteer hours from BGSU students and help them better understand how to lead activities with residents afflicted by dementia.

I want to thank the staff at the Ohio Scholars in Aging program for changing my career path for the better. I will forever look back on the experiences I gained and be grateful for the professional development they provided. Future Scholars, remember to take notes and get business cards! You’ll never know how important the connections you make here will be later in your career.

Abigail Sabo

Abigail Sabo

Abigail Sabo

Shawnee State University
2019

“The program allowed me to network with professionals and students in the field, meet with senators and policy makers, and attend the OAGE conference to learn about and discuss issues in aging.”

This semester I was lucky to be involved with a new initiative between Shawnee State University’s Master of Occupational Therapy program and Southern Ohio Medical Center’s inpatient hospice unit, called the Making Days Meaningful program. As an occupational therapy (OT) student trained as a volunteer in the hospice unit, I spent time working directly with respite patients and indirectly with social services and nursing staff. While working with respite patients, many of whom had dementia, my goal was to engage them in activities that were meaningful during their short term stay.

I talked with the patients/staff to develop an occupational profile to determine their background, activities they enjoy, and their functional skills. After getting to know the patients, my group and I were assigned to create two sensory boxes to help get the patients engaged and promote meaningful conversations. I was also assigned to work the patients on the It’s Never 2 Late (IN2L) computer program, which is a touch screen device that has several categories of activities that can be used with patients. While working with the IN2L, I found it to be a very beneficial activity because it engaged the patients in something they personally enjoyed or found meaningful in their life. I also created a quick reference tool for the staff to use to help them effectively incorporate the IN2L when possible.

The Ohio Scholars in Aging (OSA) program has provided me with amazing opportunities to further my knowledge in the field of aging. The program allowed me to network with professionals and students in the field, meet with senators and policy makers, and attend the OAGE conference to learn about and discuss issues in aging. I am so thankful to have been selected to participate in the OSA program, as it has motivated me to continue to learn and grow in the fields of OT and gerontology. I will continue to advocate for older adults and OT’s role in improving quality of life for individuals with dementia by engaging them in meaningful activities. I highly encourage future students interested in the older adult population to apply for this opportunity, as you will learn and have experiences that will make a lasting impact on your life.

Emily McLewis

Emily McLewis

Emily McLewis

Youngstown State University
2019

“Following my internship, I was offered a position as the facilities HMO Case Manager and transportation coordinator for resident’s medical appointments.”

To further my career in Long Term Care Administration at Youngstown State University, I completed an Administrator in Training (AIT) Internship with Briarfield Health Care Centers. Throughout my 1,380-hour internship, I spent time in an assisted living facility as well as two skilled nursing facilities.

In the beginning of my AIT, I learned a lot about what it is like to run an assisted living facility. I submitted their general ledgers weekly and monthly to the corporate office, helped hire qualified employees, and most importantly, learned who the residents were before they chose to reside in that facility. The most challenging part of my time at the ALF was when the Executive Director stepped down and a new Director was hired. It was challenging at first, but quickly became a good learning experience as I witnessed firsthand what it may be like when I take over my first building as either a director or administrator. My favorite part of being in the assisted living facility was spending time with the residents during their activities. Many of them lived for their bingo nights and card games and it was very rewarding to see the enjoyment on their faces.

For the second half of my AIT, I moved over to the skilled nursing side of long-term care where I worked along side the social worker for admissions and safe discharge planning practices. I then learned more about the nursing side of patient care in the nursing home facility and how state and federal regulations play a large role in daily operations in the facility. Lastly, I spent much of my time with MDS and Managed Care where I learned about the impact that the different types of insurances have on the skilled nursing facility. The most challenging part of my AIT in the skilled nursing facilities was that I had no prior experience with anything nursing; therefore, I had to quickly learn about the different types of isolations, diseases, and precautions that are taken for each individual in the nursing home. My favorite part of being in this nursing facility was the fast-paced movement of all operations. I enjoy being challenged and I was without a doubt challenged with something new every day.

Following my internship, I was offered a position as the facilities HMO Case Manager and transportation coordinator for resident’s medical appointments.

Through my time as a Scholar, I learned a lot about the different types of services offered through Area Agency on Aging and how beneficial these programs are to the older adults that live in Ohio. If it was not for this program, I may never have visited the State building or had the opportunity to meet with a Senator or someone from the House of Representatives. My experiences will follow me all throughout my professional career and I am excited to see where all of this will take me.

Barbara T. Hodgdon

Barbara T. Hodgdon

Barbara T. Hodgdon

Ohio State University
2019

“As an Ohio Scholar in Aging, I created “Play-On,” a leisure-based nutrition education activities hub to enhance intergenerational connection between older adults and preschoolers.”

As a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Family Science program at The Ohio State University, I am committed to studying the factors that influence the wellbeing of individuals in midlife and late adulthood. One area of my research focuses on promoting social connectedness and psychological well-being through leisure-based education programs. As an Ohio Scholar in Aging, I created “Play-On,” a leisure-based nutrition education activities hub to enhance intergenerational connection between older adults and preschoolers. This interdisciplinary project partners with agencies and institutions across Franklin County (Worthington Christian Village: Lauren Feyh, LNHA, Shannon Erskine, M.S., R.D., L.D., Kat Nielsen-mayer, BSW; the Department of Human Sciences: Jen D. Wong, Ph.D, Rama Kilani, Anna Legue, and Ashlyn Pissini).

Play-On is composed of a series of leisure-based nutrition education activities. Activities including food bingo, food relay races, and a food scavenger hunt were used to build relationships between older adults (aged 65 and older) and preschoolers (aged 3-4). The Play-On program also capitalized on college student volunteers to facilitate relationships between older adults and preschoolers. These activities fostered intergenerational relationships in which older adults and preschoolers bonded with each other and served as a transformative experience that cut across the lifespan. In addition, I created the Play-On activities hub for the Worthington Christian Village. This activities hub is a compilation of all the intergenerational activities that have been used and are being used at the center. The purpose hub is to promote the sustainability of the intergenerational program at the Worthington Christian Village. The activities hub includes all of the materials necessary to implement the activities. The Worthington Christian Village can also manage and update the activities to reflect the needs of the residents.

Through the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program, I partnered with individuals who are passionate about advancing the quality of life of older adults in Ohio. Through this experience, I built partnerships across Franklin County and effectively designed a program to be used in the community. Being a part of the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program fit well with my professional goals to advance the well-being and health of individuals in midlife and late adulthood.

Courtney Gerten

Courtney Gerten

Courtney Gerten

University of Toledo
2019

“The Ohio Scholars in Aging program was a great networking opportunity which allowed me to form connections with professionals in the field and learn so much more about the resources available within the community.”

During the spring semester of 2019, I completed a Capstone experience, which is one unique aspect of the occupational therapy doctorate program. Through this experience, I was able to create a program modification to the current discharge planning process at the Meadows of Ottawa, a skilled nursing facility. A needs assessment was conducted with key stakeholders at the facility (i.e., Occupational Therapist, Social Worker, Home Health Nurse, & MDS Coordinator) and clients who received therapy services. Through interviews and written surveys, I found that there was a need for a program modification to the current discharge planning process due to weaknesses in the discharge planning process (i.e., ineffective communication, no set protocol, and not always having enough time to plan the discharge) and a need for more education/community resources.

The program modification called Safe Transitions was created and helped to set new protocols into place, integrate occupation-based interventions, open lines of communication between disciplines (beyond the therapy department including nursing and social work), create interdisciplinary collaboration for medication management, provide education/resources to patients, and establish a form of communication for patients to contact their therapists following discharge. The aim of this modification was to allow patients to return home while reducing their chance of being re-hospitalized.

Participating in this Capstone experience and being involved with the Ohio Scholars in Aging program have both been wonderful opportunities that have allowed me to learn more about the aging population and their specific needs. The Ohio Scholars in Aging program was a great networking opportunity which allowed me to form connections with professionals in the field and learn so much more about the resources available within the community. As a future clinician, these resources will be valuable to the population I intend on working with. We also had the opportunity to meet with legislators to discuss current issues being discussed in legislation. This was an eye-opening experience which showed how truly passionate so many others are toward the aging population. I have been given hope that legislation will be passed that will help protect and provide better quality services to the aging population.

Barbara T. Hodgdon

Chrisse Edmunds

Chrisse Edmunds

Ohio State University
2019

“Moving forward, I hope to have a greater policy focus in my research and to work more closely with groups outside of academia. This program has given me the knowledge and social network necessary to better meet the research needs of policymakers and community leaders.”

Participating in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program was an important and informative experience in my academic career. Meeting with state legislators and members of the Ohio Department of Aging opened my eyes to how policymakers think about aging. I was encouraged to see their enthusiasm for aging-related issues. Meeting with local groups who work intimately with the older adult population in Columbus, Ohio opened my eyes to the short- and long-term needs of older adults as well as the types of services and programs currently available to them. I appreciated the opportunity to ask questions to our policymakers and community leaders. We covered topics related to housing maintenance and insecurity, food insecurity, transportation, social networks, families, health, advocacy, and medical insurance. This program has provided me with a well-rounded introduction to the complex policies, services, and trends related to aging in Ohio.

I completed my research practicum on a team of interdisciplinary scholars at The Ohio State University. Using six waves of the Health and Retirement Study, we examined the relationship between housing and food insecurity for older adults. Previous research shows that home ownership and housing wealth are associated with food insecurity. Our study identifies mortgage borrowing as an explanatory mechanism in this relationship between housing and food insecurity. Mortgage borrowing is significantly associated with decreased levels of food insecurity. We contribute to the literature suggesting that housing wealth provides a buffer for older adults. Moreover, we find that for older adult homeowners, borrowing against your mortgage can be an effective way to meet basic needs during time of income or health hardship.

The Ohio Scholars in Aging program was informative to me as I move in to my dissertation research, a mixed-methods study of the effect that caregiving for parents has on the economic security of adult children. Through experiences in this program, I learned more about what options are available to adult children who provide care to their parents. Moving forward, I hope to have a greater policy focus in my research and to work more closely with groups outside of academia. This program has given me the knowledge and social network necessary to better meet the research needs of policymakers and community leaders.