I wouldn’t trade my experience with the Ohio Scholars in Aging program for anything. Throughout the course of the program, I have come into contact with a prodigious number of people who are passionate about aging and are committed to giving an authentic voice to older adults. I have learned about so many different, yet equally important, programs that are offered from the advocates at the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education. I hope to take the knowledge learned and use it to better the lives of the older adults in my life. In addition, through this program I was able to meet other students who are passionate about gerontology. Learning about their passions was inspiring and eye-opening; there are so many facets in which even pre-professionals can have a positive impact on the field of aging!
During my spring semester of my junior year at Miami University, I served as an intern at the Mt. Healthy Christian Village. I spent the majority of my time there in the rehab unit and with the activities department. After completing my undergraduate education, I hope to attend graduate school for occupational therapy with a specialization in geriatric care. As a result, I decided to create activity kits for older adults with dementia that will serve to promote well-being through meaningful activity engagement. The kits will be different based upon how older adults scored on the Allen Cognitive Level Scale (ACLS), an evaluation and treatment tool used by occupational therapists.
The ACLS was developed through systematic observation and documentation of predictable patterns of performance in older adults as they engaged in activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and leisure activities. They are ranked on a scale from 1: most basic functions to 6: most complex functions. These levels increase by increments of .2 (.2…1.4…2.6, etc.) They reflect sets of underlying cognitive processes (i.e. motor actions and verbal behaviors) that affect functional performance and are observed as an individual engages in an activity. In general, residents at the Christian Village Communities who were diagnosed with a form of dementia were between a 3.0 and 4.6 on the ACLS. Making these activity kits has helped me grow in the knowledge of practical occupational therapy skills and has served to deepen my appreciation of the field.
I am grateful to be a part of the gerontology program at Miami and in the Ohio Scholars in Aging program because there is a large and specific need to view aging from a social viewpoint, as opposed to a medical viewpoint. Aging is not a problem that society should serve to treat. Those who are aging deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as those who are younger. Having a holistic view of the social and emotional aspects of aging allow clinicians and everyday persons to engage with older adults in a more meaningful and authentic way. The Scholars program does an amazing job of stressing this theme, and that is something I think everyone should learn about. My goal professionally is to help older adults feel engaged with life to the highest potential, regardless of age. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking to network with others in the field of aging, grow professionally, and further their education in a meaningful way.