SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

News Feed Item

People With Early-Stage Alzheimer's Mentor Medical Students To Increase Knowledge And Reduce Stigma

BOSTON, July 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While the global population is aging, and the personal and economic burdens due to Alzheimer's disease and related disorders are skyrocketing, the number of doctors trained to effectively diagnose and treat people with Alzheimer's is already woefully inadequate. Experts in health policy and practice have indicated the need for more comprehensive education for health care professionals in dementia and aging to meet the needs of the growing number of older adults in the United States.

According to the American Geriatrics Society:

  • There are currently approximately 7,500 certified geriatricians and fewer than 1,600 certified geriatric psychiatrists in the United States. It is projected that approximately 30 percent of the 65-plus patient population will need to be cared for by a geriatrician and that each geriatrician can care for a patient panel of 700 older adults. Based on these numbers, approximately 17,000 geriatricians are needed now to care for about 12 million older Americans.
  • Due to the projected increase in the number of older Americans, it is estimated that approximately 30,000 geriatricians will be needed by 2030. To meet this need, this would require training approximately 1,200 geriatricians per year over the next 20 years.
  • Few graduates of medical schools in the United States are pursuing advanced training in geriatrics. In 2010, a mere 75 residents in internal medicine or family medicine entered geriatric medicine fellowship programs. This is down from 112 in 2005.

"This is a challenging situation for older individuals, families and our healthcare system," said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association vice president of medical and scientific relations.

At the same time, a program developed by the Northwestern University Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago — and replicated now in Massachusetts, Missouri and New Hampshire — provides opportunities for first-year medical students and persons diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's to participate together in experiential learning programs. In the Buddy Program, medical students are paired with individuals with dementia, and the "buddies" plan a year of regular meetings around mutually satisfying activities. 

These programs are improving medical student knowledge and familiarity with Alzheimer's while also heightening sensitivity and empathy toward people with the disease, according to new data reported today at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference® 2013 (AAIC® 2013) in Boston.

The goals of the Buddy Program are to:

  • Educate medical students about Alzheimer's disease by increasing their knowledge base, heightening their awareness of skills and strengths that remain in persons with Alzheimer's and familiarizing them with care/support issues and effective communication skills.
  • Introduce students to research and practice opportunities in fields related to aging and dementia.
  • Provide persons living with dementia an opportunity to serve as a mentor to a future doctor.

"We want to expand future physicians' knowledge of, interest in and attitudes toward Alzheimer's and dementia in order to increase the number of physicians capable of caring effectively and compassionately for patients with these diseases and their families," said Darby Morhardt, MSW, LCSW, research associate professor in cognitive neurology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

To date, the Buddy Program has paired 167 medical students and persons with dementia over 16 years. Scores on a Dementia Knowledge Test, created by Morhardt and colleagues in 2000, reveal modest improvement in student knowledge. Analysis of student journal entries, a program requirement following each activity, yield themes that include heightened sensitivity and empathy toward persons with Alzheimer's, increased recognition of remaining strengths and a change in students' preconceptions of dementia.

According to Morhardt, "Many students remark on the comfort and enjoyment they experience with their mentor and for some an increased comfort over the course of the year."

For example, one student wrote, "I feel like my interactions with (my mentor) are becoming more fluid as I begin to ask fewer complex questions and incorporate his viewpoint into my own speech. I also feel more comfortable 'jumping in' when (my mentor) struggles for too long with a word or sentence without threatening his independence. I understand so much more about (my mentor's) experience than I could even imagine before we met."

First-year medical students are selected based on interest and willingness to commit to these program requirements: 1) attendance at two 90-minute orientation sessions and monthly process meetings; 2) four hours per month in activity with their buddy for one academic year; and 3) submission of a semi-structured journal report following each visit. A pre-/post-dementia knowledge test assesses student's objective learning, and student journal entries are qualitatively analyzed for themes.

Three Successful Replication Programs

The program has been successfully replicated at Boston University (2006), Dartmouth College (2010) and Washington University (2012). Each replicating program has integrated unique modifications while keeping the primary elements in place.

The Boston University program (PAIRS, Partners in Alzheimer's Instruction Research Study) produced several innovations, including the use of a textbook geared toward students and non-specialists; an additional comprehensive dementia knowledge test to better assess students' factual learning; scales to measure attitudes toward Alzheimer's and dementia; measures of physician empathy; and an end-of-the-year reflective essay encompassing students' PAIRS program experiences — including what they have learned throughout the program and how they envision that these experiences will affect their subsequent careers.

"Students in the PAIRS program have consistently demonstrated improvement in factual knowledge, as well as gaining valuable new experiences and perspectives related to caregiver and personal aspects of Alzheimer's disease, such as the frustrations of living with memory loss," said Andrew Budson, M.D., director of the education core at the Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center. "Students' empathy for patients and caregivers has increased, and they report decreased stigma and negative attitudes toward people with Alzheimer's."

The Dartmouth TALES (The Alzheimer's Learning Experience for Students) program has modified the structure of the Northwestern Buddy Program in the following ways: (1) In addition to first- and second-year medical students, Dartmouth College pre-medical students and master of public health students are permitted to enroll in the program; (2) two students are paired with each person with Alzheimer's and generally visit the person with Alzheimer's together; and (3) students in the program are given a survey of attitudes about Alzheimer's disease before beginning the program and after completing it. Nine medical students, 11 graduate students and 42 undergraduates have enrolled since the program began in 2010.

"While our students typically enter the program with generally positive attitudes toward Alzheimer's disease and those who have it, the experience of being in the program further improves their attitudes on nearly every dimension that we assess," said Robert B. Santulli, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

Modifications to the model by Washington University (DUO, Dementia Understanding Opportunity) include a reduced time requirement to two hours per month and a modified recruitment partnership focusing on students with general geriatric interest, in lieu of neurology students. The DUO Program is midway through its pilot year and has recruited 40 percent more student participants than anticipated with a wait list for interested persons with dementia. In addition to the quantitative measures implemented from the Buddy Program, participant feedback and monthly reflections continue to provide rich data for future qualitative analysis. Several themes for further analysis, such as whether DUO's fewer partner hours can provide the same benefit as the longer hourly requirements of the existing Buddy-inspired programs, have already been identified.

According to the Alzheimer's Association 2013 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer's could be as much as three times that amount. Yet too many people with Alzheimer's disease are undiagnosed — by some estimates, as many as 50 percent. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and is the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.

About AAIC

The Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world's largest conference of its kind. AAIC brings together researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and issues surrounding the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. As a part of the Alzheimer's Association's research program, AAIC serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia and fostering a vital, collegial research community.

About the Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's disease care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's through the advancement of research; provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. Visit www.alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

SOURCE Alzheimer's Association

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
AppZero has announced that its award-winning application migration software is now fully qualified within the Microsoft Azure Certified program. AppZero has undergone extensive technical evaluation with Microsoft Corp., earning its designation as Microsoft Azure Certified. As a result of AppZero's work with Microsoft, customers are able to easily find, purchase and deploy AppZero from the Azure Marketplace. With just a few clicks, users have an Azure-based solution for moving applications to the...
The cloud is becoming the de-facto way for enterprises to leverage common infrastructure while innovating and one of the biggest obstacles facing public cloud computing is security. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jeff Aliber, a global marketing executive at Verizon, discussed how the best place for web security is in the cloud. Benefits include: Functions as the first layer of defense Easy operation –CNAME change Implement an integrated solution Best architecture for addressing network-l...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Media announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, VP of Marketing, Application Performance Management and DevOps at CA Technologies, has joined DevOps Journal’s authors. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Aruna's inaugural article "Four Essential Cultural Hacks for DevOps Newbies" discusses how to demonstrate the...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's