Nicole Dawson

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

Spring 2013

“I look forward to continuing a lifelong relationship with these organizations and researchers.”

Being given the opportunity to participate in the Ohio Internships in Aging Program during the Spring Semester certainly provided me with an invaluable experience for networking with experts in aging as well as for building a stronger foundation for applied research in aging.  I had the privilege of completing my internship with Dr. Heather Menne at the Margaret Blenkner Research Institute of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland.  During my time with Dr. Menne, I assisted with analysis of data collected during the Ohio Replication of the Reducing Disability in Alzheimer’s disease intervention.  Reducing Disability in Alzheimer’s Disease (RDAD) is an evidenced-based intervention for individuals with dementia and their family caregivers aimed at improving physical performance of the IWD as well as reducing psychosocial strain of the caregiver.  There have been manuscripts published reporting the successful results in terms of individuals’ subjective functional improvements using caregiver-based reports.  However, no statistical analysis has been published utilizing the objective physical performance measures (walking speed, functional reach, balance) or falls.

Throughout the semester, previous literature and theoretical consideration guided several iterations of statistical analyses of these physical performance outcomes to ensure inclusion of important predictor variables as well as necessary covariates regarding efficacy of the exercise portion of RDAD on these measures.  Time was the most limiting factor during the semester as in-person meetings were most effective in discussing statistical and theoretical concerns although much of the analysis was able to be completed via teleconferencing or electronic communication.

Many opportunities have arisen from my participation in this internship.  Dr. Menne and I have collaborated on a presentation for the OAGE annual conference in the spring.  We have also submitted abstracts for 2 national conferences including the Gerontological Society of America’s annual conference and the national Physical Therapy conference.  A manuscript is also in preparation at this time which will be completed by the end of the calendar year as I have been preparing for my comprehensive examination this summer.  Additional opportunities currently being discussed are potential grant applications to further test validity of physical assessment tools in individuals with dementia as well as further collaboration on exercise interventions with older adults with dementia.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the leaders in the ODA and OAGE along with Drs. Heather Menne and Katherine Judge for this great opportunity.  I look forward to continuing a lifelong relationship with these organizations and researchers.