Adrienne Garrett-Dismuke

Adrienne Garrett-Dismuke

Adrienne Garrett-Dismuke

Fall 2013

“At the end of my internship I had several positive comments from the writers. Some reported feeling less lonely and more confident while some were just grateful to be able to document parts of their lives so that they may share them with family members.”

For my internship, I was working on a writing workshop for older adults designed by Dr. Kate De Medeiros of Miami University. Combines academic research and the “usual” reminiscence discussion group I facilitated this workshop at a local nursing home in Oxford, Ohio.  This facility is committed to incorporating intergenerational programming into the lives of the residents, so the administration and staff was thrilled on have a new workshop run by college students takings place.  Each week, I met with a group of residents where we worked on self-stories and used different genres of writing including poetry, first person narratives and others.  The residents had the opportunity to share their stories with the group and receive positive feedback on their writing.  Throughout the course the semester, we encountered a number challenges. Some residents were reluctant to participate because of their past educational attainment.  They were not confident that they could carry out the tasks in the workshop because they had never finished high school.  I addressed the issue by creating a supportive environment where they knew that their writing was not being graded.  I assured them that “this is NOT high school English class.  If you want to use “ain’t” in your writing, that is fine by me”.   I wanted to preserve any cultural meaning that language used may have, even if it was not Standard English.  I also wanted them to know that it was alright to be themselves.  Another barrier was hearing impairment.  Like many facilities, hearing loss is a struggle among members of the community.   In response, I did everything I could to accommodate including making additional handout so that all instructions I gave during the sessions were written down as well as arranging seating for maximum effectiveness.

The workshop was designed with several goals in mind such as providing a pathway for relationship/friendship formation, improvements in participant memory and improvements in perceived feelings well-being.  At the end of my internship I had several positive comments from the writers.  Some reported feeling less lonely and more confident while some were just grateful to be able to document parts of their lives so that they may share them with family members.  Everyone felt they had benefited from being a part of the group in one way or another.

Katie Gabriel

Katie Gabriel

Katie Gabriel

Fall 2013

“My main goal is to gain insight into as many positions as possible, and to be a helping hand for anyone.”

I am so excited and looking forward to shadowing you at the Ohio Department of Aging. I am very interested in shadowing as many positions as possible, so that I am able to narrow down what I would like to do with my gerontology degree. I am very interested in advocacy for older adults, and would love to be involved with that as much as possible. I am also very interested in the treatment and care for older adults with the diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimer’s.

For my time spent at the ODA, I would be thrilled to be involved as much as possible, whether that is attending meetings, or helping out where needed. My main goal is to gain insight into as many positions as possible, and to be a helping hand for anyone.

I am very interested in shadowing positions that are held by employees who either solely have a gerontology degree or are in a position that would lend itself to one with a gerontology degree.  I know that this shadowing experience through the ODA will be very rewarding, and I hope that I can help out as much as possible with my time spent there over break.

Bethanie Cole

Bethanie Cole

Bethanie Cole

Fall 2013

“I was empowered to learn more about my personality and be more confident in the unique quirks of my personality while also respecting and being thankful for the unique personalities of others.”

I completed my internship at Trumbull Correctional Institution (TCI), which is a state prison in Leavittsburg, OH. At TCI, I am an intern who sees inmates for counseling. I also complete segregation rounds, which is when I walk down the three ranges of the segregation unit and ask each inmate if they are in need of any mental health services. This activity was set in place to reduce the suicide attempts, because when one is in segregation, the risk of suicidal ideation becomes much higher. Last, but not least, I complete suicide assessments when someone claims to be suicidal. When this happens, the inmate is placed on “watch” until he can guarantee his safety.

My project is currently titled “Positivity and Antisocial Personality Disorder.” It is the project I will be using for my dissertation at The University of Akron. For this project, I will be collecting data from approximately 100 inmates. These inmates will most likely be divided between younger and older adults, although I am not sure of the age cut-offs yet.  Perhaps I will collect data from three age groups: younger adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults. I need an age range because I will be testing Socioemotional Selectivity Theory’s (Carstensen, 1991, 1993) positivity effect, which postulates that older adults pay more attention to positive stimuli in their environment than younger adults. In other words, older adults regulate their mood by an automatic preference for positive information (over negative information) in the environment. Examples of something positive would be a smiling face, a baby cooing, or a couple holding hands. Examples of negative information would be an angry face, a funeral, or a couple arguing. In the research, neutral stimuli are also analyzed: examples of neutral stimuli would be a toaster, a tree, or a car. For my project, I will use positive, negative, and neutral pictures as my stimuli, and the inmates’ will be asked to rate the picture according to the mood it invokes when they look at it. The inmate’s mood will be recorded with a 7-point likert-scale (self-report).

 

This project is important because no previous research has examined the positivity effect within individuals who have been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Individuals with ASPD have deficits in mood and emotion regulation, making it possible that such individuals may have a different manifestation or development of the positivity effect. It is my hypothesis, however, that the positivity effect will indeed be present in this population. This hypothesis is based on the diversity of populations for which previous research has found support for the positivity effect.

TCI is interested in having me complete this project because one of the current “hot topics” in corrections research is the ability to approve a safe “early-release” for individuals with ASPD. If it is found that older adults with ASPD become more positive with age, research can then be done on the impact of such positivity on recidivism and the individual’s dangerousness. Another “hot topic” in corrections research is the unique needs of older adult inmates. If the positivity effect is found to occur in this population, this could impact the treatment(s) which could be effective, inmates’ adjustment to correctional institutions, and interactions with staff and other inmates.

The evolution of my project has been interesting. At one point my advisor and I were considering measuring the impact of the severity of ASPD traits on the level of positivity that can be attained. Thankfully, it shifted to the current focus recently, which—instead of assuming the positivity effect occurs—goes back to testing to see if the positivity effect is indeed present in this population.

Obstacles which I have faced and/or will face in the future include the IRB process in the prison. Not only do I have to complete the IRB process at The University of Akron, but the process for approval through the IRB process at the prison could take up to one year to complete. Additionally, the older adult population at TCI is not large. It is possible that I will be required to travel to other institutions in Ohio in order to collect the amount of data I need. Last but not least, narrowing the focus of this project was a challenge. I read hundreds of articles, and wrote multiple drafts of this project before it began to take its current shape. It was frustrating, but the closer I come to gathering data, the more excited I get.

Opportunities I was awarded with due to this internship experience include learning more about gerontology theories, being given an opportunity to bridge a gap in psychological literature, and working with several different professionals throughout Ohio. Through the networking provided, I will also have the opportunity to attend policy meetings at correctional institutions. Last but not least, I learned to defend my ideas through the rigorous process of presenting my project and being peppered with questions by my peers.

This experience was very beneficial to me. I learned how to organize my ideas in a fashion which is understandable to others, how to advocate for myself, and how to share my enthusiasm for research with other professionals. I was empowered to learn more about my personality and be more confident in the unique quirks of my personality while also respecting and being thankful for the unique personalities of others. I was given the opportunity to explore new ways to present my experience on my resume, and challenged to explore alternative options when completing my project.

I am very thankful for the opportunities I was given. Not all were comfortable, but I have realized that growth is not always an enjoyable process. Due to the openness and friendliness of the OAGE and ODA, I look forward to meeting new people and widening my professional network. I know that even though my internship is at its end, Sara and the rest of the ODA team would not hesitate to help me in the future if I needed it.

Andrea Brooks

Andrea Brooks

Andrea Brooks

Fall 2013

“I learned that hard work does pay off and can make a difference. Since completing this project, I am able to meet the needs of individuals who call into the AAMVC and happen to need names of transportation agencies that can assist them or their loved one. “

My internship for Fall Semester 2013 with the Greater Miami Valley Joint MASW Program in Dayton, Ohio was with the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter (AAMVC) located at 31 W. Whipp Road in Kettering, Ohio.  The project that I worked on with the Alzheimer’s Association was a transportation project, where I would update information about all the transportation agencies serving older adults in the Miami Valley area.  The nine counties that I covered were Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby, Darke, Greene, Logan, Clark and Champaign.  This project also focused on finding out information about scheduling and evaluation processes and how accessible transportation programs were to individuals with early onset dementia and those with early stage dementia.

The AAMVC was interested in having me complete this project because it would become a useful resource at the agency and it would bring attention to the needs of individuals with early onset dementia who are under the age of 65, but due to the disease and its symptoms effect on individuals driving abilities, find it difficult to continue driving and need alternative transportation resources to fill the gap.  The details of the project changed a few times through the course of the internship, but the overall focus did not change.  Instead of just compiling a list of names of agencies and their contact information, I also included personal stories of those living with dementia at an early age, in my PowerPoint presentation.  This allowed them to have a voice in the making of this project and offered a different point of view, since they are the ones who would be utilizing the services.

The largest obstacle faced was getting a hold of the agencies.  Some places would answer right away and provide the information I asked of them, but I had to leave voice messages on many others and wait for their phone calls.  I was playing phone tag many of the days.  Another obstacle was compiling all of the information.  It was a lot of information to organize. I went from using Microsoft Excel Software to making a transportation directory on Microsoft Word.  While calling the transportation agencies, I received invitations from other mobility managers to attend their meetings and present this project to them.  I also was given the opportunity to present this information to the AAMVC as a resource and also to disseminate the information to all of the agencies that I spoke with.  I learned that hard work does pay off and can make a difference.  Since completing this project, I am able to meet the needs of individuals who call into the AAMVC and happen to need names of transportation agencies that can assist them or their loved one.  This internship with the ODA and OAGE gave me the opportunity to pursue this project and also to learn more about advocacy at a public policy level.  I was very blessed to have this opportunity and recommend it highly.