AGING SENSITIVITY WORKSHOP IMPROVES EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING TOWARDS THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED POPULATION
The older population, defined as persons 65 years or older, represents 12.9 % of the U.S population, about one in every eight American.People continue to live longer and diseases and disabilities are inevitable part of aging. Rates of disabilities are reducing. Studies have found that between 1982 and 1999, the prevalence of Physical disability in older Americans decreased from 26% to 20 %.2 Despite the decrease in the percent of physical disabilities, there is an increase in the aging population. Many of these disabilities affect the person’s ability to comprehend instructions, review educational materials and follow recommendations provided to them.Some of the disabilities encountered in the aging population include visual disturbances.Aging may also affect hearing with loss of conduction, most commonly presbycusis with loss of high frequency sounds.In addition memory impairment from mild to severe cognitive impairment becomes more common with aging. Each of these impairments affects a person’s learning ability.Adaptation and flexibility of communication to this population is critical if we wish to succeed.Health care providers and staff are sometimes not sensitive to disabilities and functional difficulties of this population.
An aging sensitivity program will be performed with medical providers who frequently care for and teach an aging population. Participants will include physicians, physician assistants, advanced nurse practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, medical assistants, clerical staff, psychologists, residents, and medical students. The participants will be Univeristy of Florida and/or Shands Jacksonville Hospital staff and they will be asked personally to do the workshop on a voluntary basis. The principal investigator and co-investigator will facilitate and conduct the workshop.
The sensitivity training will include techniques to simulate common disabilities seen with aging including visual difficulties, decline in hearing, arthritic conditions, and neurologic disorders.
Visual difficulties demonstrations will be performed using special glasses that simulate common problems with aging including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Decline in hearing will be simulated by using foam ear plugs. There will also be a CD played which simulates high frequency hearing loss. Arthritic and neurologic conditions will be simulated by using ace wraps on the dominant arm and a plastic bag with uncooked popcorn in the shoe and tongue blades immobilizing the knee.
Participants will also wear gloves to decrease dexterity and be asked to perform simple tasks such as opening a medicine bottle and picking out a certain color pill (skittle).
An anonymous voluntary paired score analysis will be performed using a ten question pre and post test questionnaire.
Will be reported after the workshop is completed and data collected.
Will be reported after completion of the data collection and analysis.