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Philadelphia Consortium Projects

Older Adults

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Living LIFE: Tips for Health and Wellness

Student Intern(s):
Cassandra Kercher, Drexel University, School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor(s):
Ellen Schelly-Hill, MMT, ADTR, LPC, NCC, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions

Community Preceptor(s):
Beth Cwiklinski, MSW, NewCourtland LIFE Program
Natasha Goldstein, MA, DTR, NewCourtland LIFE Program

The Community Site:
The NewCourtland LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) Program, located in Northwest Philadelphia, provides all-inclusive care for frail elderly adults. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity; Tobacco Use
Focus Areas:  Educational and Community-Based Programs; Heart Disease and Stroke; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Tobacco Use

The Project: 
Cassandra taught several health education sessions for seniors. The topics included cardiovascular health, hand washing and infection control, fire safety, and oral health. She also led a self-defense seminar for staff, facilitated a smoking cessation program and movement therapy sessions, and assisted with existing programs at LIFE. Accompanying a nurse on home-care visits gave Cassandra the opportunity to collaborate in the assessment of potential participants and to gauge the progress of current participants.

Cassandra noted, “My experience as a BTG intern has been amazing. I have had the opportunity to observe, and function as a part of an interdisciplinary team and gain experience working in a community that has unique needs and characteristics. I have also been able to cultivate a number of skills, such as communication, teamwork, and patience, which will assist me in achieving my professional and personal goals.” 

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Aging Together: A Community-Based Approach to Successful Aging

Student Intern(s):
Emily Olson, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Courtney Pistilli, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy

Academic Preceptor(s):
Lauren Collins, MD, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Community Preceptor(s):
Mary Ellen Bolden, Independence Promotion Project, Services on Site

The Community Site:
Services on Site provides social services and health-related activities to residents of Scottish Rite House, Scottish Rite Tower, Susquehanna Village, Reed Street Presbyterian, Anthony Wayne Manor, and American Postal Workers House.

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Disability and Secondary Conditions; Educational and Community-Based Programs; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Overweight; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project: 
Emily and Courtney designed and implemented activities in keeping with the biopsychosocial approach to successful aging. They chose each week’s theme to attract residents (e.g., “Blast from the Past” and “Brain Power”) and included a health education component, physical exercise, mental activity, and an arts and crafts project. They carefully planned activities to promote a sense of community among the residents by encouraging teamwork and sharing of life experiences. Health topics included heat safety, nutrition, cardiovascular disease, stroke, mental health, oral health and fall prevention. Emily and Courtney also met individually with residents in their homes and attended existing Tai Chi classes to further develop the residents’ cultural competence in the context of healthy aging. 

Emily noted, "My experience with BTG has taught me that even a little support can go such a long way."

Courtney commented, “This experience opened my eyes to the complex issues which arise in the aging process, and the impact poverty and limited access to health care can have on the individual. It also deepened my appreciation of personal life experiences; the seniors we served this summer are experts in their own life stories—I am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear those stories.”

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Balancing Confidence with Physical Activity in the Older Population

Student Intern(s):
Andrew Shen, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):
Ellen Schelly-Hill, MMT, ADTR, LPC, NCC, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Community Preceptor(s):
Mary Fallon, MA, NHA, Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program
Roberta Balsam, MSW, Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program
Lynn Trimborn, RN, Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program

The Community Site:
The Unitarian Universalist House Outreach Program works within the Northwest Philadelphia community. The primary goal of the Outreach Program is to provide older individuals with resources to assist them in their independent lifestyles within their own residences. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Access to Health Care; Environmental Quality; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Arthritis, Osteoporosis and Chronic Back Conditions; Disability and Secondary Conditions; Educational and Community-Based Programs; Environmental Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Andrew’s primary project was to design a physical activities program for several of the Unitarian Universalist House Outreach Program clients.  The focus of this program was to see if a few simple physical activities, such as arm curls and pointing and flexing the foot, could increase the balance and confidence of the clients within the framework of their mobility. By meeting with clients several times a week, Andrew’s goal was to improve both their physical balance and mental confidence, thus complementing the Outreach Program’s mission to assist clients in independent living. In addition to this physical activities program, Andrew also participated in client assessments, gave a presentation at the West Oak Lane Community Center on getting the most out of a visit to a doctor’s office, and observed several health screenings and educational workshops. 

Andrew remarked, “One of the most striking characteristics of the Unitarian Universalist House Outreach Program client is the inner strength and determination to live independently and overcome challenges to this independence. Working with these individuals has really made me see Philadelphia in a different, refreshing light—a close-knit, supportive community with many services to offer, a community created by the older population and those who work with them."

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Older Adults Staying Healthy Through the Ages

Student Intern(s):
Monique Brown, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, College of Health Sciences, Department of Occupational Therapy  
Sara Farjo, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):
Eugene Mochan, PhD, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor(s):
Rebecca Kochman, MSW, LSW, Intercommunity Action, Inc., Journey's Way, Adult Services

The Community Site:
Located in Roxborough, Intercommunity Action, Inc. (InterAc) is a facility containing a senior center and an adult day care center for older adults with physical or cognitive impairments. View Community Partner Web Site 

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Physical Activity; Tobacco Use
Focus Areas:  Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health and Mental Disorders

The Project:
At the Center for Older Adults, Monique and Sara facilitated various public health presentations and held one-to-one sessions on topics such as cardiovascular health, oral health, arthritis, balance and smoking cessation. Additionally, they created a travel series that educated the center’s clients about various countries and cultures. The interns also created several physical fitness activities such as chair yoga and seated exercise classes for the adult day care center. Monique and Sara actively participated in or led ongoing events at the senior center and adult day care center, including beading class, bingo and brain fitness. 

Sara commented, “This summer internship has taught me that we are not defined by our age or by what we can or cannot do currently, but through the experiences that have made us who we are. Furthermore, just as the older adults from this site have shared with me their many stories and experiences, I have gained my own experiences from them.” 

Monique said, “I have gained a plethora of knowledge from this experience in a matter of seven weeks. The time I have spent with the participants has broadened my horizons and aided my thought process in understanding why seniors yearn for their independence as they age. I have learned just because one's body ages, it does not mean one's body stops working completely."

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Connecting with Seniors Across Cultures

Student Intern(s):
Yun-Lin Cheng, Drexel University College of Medicine 
Andrea Swatski, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor(s):
Vincent Zarro, MD, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions

Community Preceptor(s):
Tara Swatzendruber-Landis, Nationalities Service Center, Senior Center

The Community Site:
Nationalities Senior Center, located in North Philadelphia, provides seniors who are immigrants or refugees with activities, connections to resources and hot meals.  The Coffee Cup serves as the Asian outreach program, part of the Philadelphia Senior Center organization in Center City Philadelphia. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Physical Activity; Tobacco Use; Access to Health Care 
Focus Areas:  Access to Quality Health Services; Educational and Community-Based Programs; Health Communication; Oral Health; Physical Activity 

The Project:
At the Nationalities Senior Center, the interns assisted staff members in providing activities and services for the seniors. Activities included arts and crafts, health presentations and group exercises. The interns helped conduct nutritional risk assessment surveys, assisted in health assessment activities for PCA, and acted as interpreters to seniors needing to make phone calls to resolve billing or health issues. The interns’ major project was helping to organize a community garden for the seniors and the neighborhood. This included contacting the local councilwoman for support, organizing a community cleanup to clear the abandoned lot, pricing supplies, communicating with local area businesses for supply donations, drafting bylaws, and communicating with garden specialists on designs and tips. The interns also helped out once a week at the Coffee Cup by organizing activities for the seniors, such as making pressed flower bookmarks; chair exercises; and painting flower pots, and then planting herbs and flowers in them. In addition, the interns also prepared a presentation on oral health and provided dental supplies to encourage seniors to be proactive in their oral health.

Yun-Lin noted, “Coming to NSC has been a great experience, as it has given me the opportunity to become more comfortable interacting with an elder age group. I feel as if the community outreach I did through my work with the garden will be a valuable resource in my future career as a physician. Learning how to reach out, connect, and communicate with people is a valuable skill that I hope I have improved after coming to Nationalities.” 

Andrea commented, “I came into the center with an interest in working with seniors in the future. Interacting one-on-one or with groups at the center provided many opportunities for me to begin to understand the daily challenges these seniors face, whether economic or cultural.  Being a part of the development of the community garden and seeing it come together was an enjoyable part of the internship. I am grateful for the experience at NSC.”

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Empowering Seniors to Enjoy All That a Healthful Life Has to Offer

Student Intern(s):
Rochelle Durieux, Temple University, College of Health Professions, Department of Nursing
Tatyana Mikhats, Temple University, College of Health Professions, Department of Physical Therapy

Academic Preceptor(s):
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor(s): 
Julie Nelson, Philadelphia Senior Center, Tioga Branch

The Community Site:
The Philadelphia Senior Center, Tioga Branch offers a variety of programs for adults aged 55 and older who live in North Philadelphia. The Tioga Branch provides breakfast and hot lunches, trips, housing counseling, weekly classes, and a variety of activities. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity; Substance Abuse
Focus Areas:  Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions; Diabetes; Food Safety; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Overweight

The Project:
Rochelle and Tatyana participated with the seniors at the Tioga Philadelphia Senior Center in daily activities and games, and assisted staff with administrative tasks. The interns conducted computer classes and one-to-one morning talks on a variety of topics, from overall well-being to racial and class segregation. They also delivered short lunchtime presentations on a variety of health topics and ways to maximize resources available to seniors. Health topics included cardiovascular health, stroke, heart attack, nutrition, oral health and fall prevention. With help from a local community activist and a local church, Rochelle and Tatyana organized Philly Clean-Up Day with the goal of bringing the community together to fight for a cleaner, more beautiful Philadelphia. 

Rochelle noted, “My experience this summer with BTG is invaluable. I have learned that working within the community is not an easy task, but it is rewarding in so many ways. If you touch just one person’s life, you have accomplished a great feat. I hope to take these life lessons with me into my health-care profession and beyond.” 

Tatyana reflected, “Not only did I have a chance to interact with senior citizens, improve my social skills and speaker abilities, but I met wonderful people and heard their life stories.  As a future health-care provider, I learned how I can be an active part of the community and what issues must be addressed when working with an older population. This summer experience was fun, informational, inspiring, and simply unforgettable!”

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Our House Is a Healthy Home

Student Intern(s):
Chase Clanton, Temple University, School of Medicine
Laine Danshes, Temple University, College of Health Professions, Department of Nursing
Shannon Traynor, Temple University, College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy

Community Preceptor(s):
Peggy Eagle, BS/MHT, Lutheran Settlement House, Senior Center
Michelle Lutz, BSW, Lutheran Settlement House, Senior Center

Academic Preceptor(s):
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine

The Community Site:
Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) is a community center serving adults aged 55 and older. The site, located in Fishtown, addresses social and nutritional needs, while promoting independence and a higher quality of life for its senior clientele. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Overweight; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Shannon, Laine and Chase spent their time at the Lutheran Settlement House getting to know the seniors. The main focus of their project was to promote physical activity and to provide pertinent health information and resources. Initially, the interns distributed surveys to inquire about the interests and health concerns of the seniors, then based much of their work on the information they obtained. Each week, the interns provided interactive learning sessions on a specific health theme. Topics included heart health, arthritis, fall prevention, stress recognition and relaxation, healthy eating recipes, oral health, and osteoporosis. 

Shannon noted, “All of us just need to be willing to put in the time to break the ice with our clients and see who they really are, what is really troubling them, and what they are really willing to do/ interested in regarding treatment and care. Only when we become partners with our clients in the endeavor of reaching their optimal state of health will our efforts and disciplines be regarded and respected to the extent in which they should be.” 

Laine commented, “These past seven weeks have changed the way I feel about the older population, helped me see that, though, yes they are older and may have chronic conditions, they are still highly capable independent individuals. In my pursuit of becoming a nurse I will take with me the lessons I have learned, especially the responsibility to treat everyone with the respect they deserve.” 

Chase said, “Spending time with the seniors will no doubt make me a more compassionate and empathetic doctor. I have learned to respect many of these courageous people who manage to get up every morning to face life. Treating the elderly population with understanding will be a high priority in my future practice.”

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Successful Relationships With Seniors: Building a Health Bridge

Student Intern(s):
Melissa Leedle, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Yelena Rybak, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Nursing

Academic Preceptors(s):
Molly A. Rose, RN, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Nursing

Community Preceptor(s):
Charles Brown, MSW, LSW, Philadelphia Senior Center, South Broad Street Branch, In-Home Support Program

The Community Site:
The Philadelphia Senior Center (PSC) Main Branch on South Broad Street helps meet the basic needs of adults aged 55 and older and works to enhance their quality of life through a wide range of activities and classes. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Physical Activity; Overweight and Obesity; Mental Health
Focus Areas:  Heart Disease and Stroke; Oral Health; Nutrition and Overweight; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Chronic Kidney Disease

The Project:
Yelena and Melissa provided education, discussion forums, health information tables and activities to enhance the overall quality of life of older adults at the Philadelphia Senior Center on South Broad Street. The interns also worked with the volunteer coordinators in daily activities such as Fan Fair, Veggie Vouchers and other fund-raisers. Yelena and Melissa interacted with the members each day to gain a better understanding of the population at PSC. 

Yelena remarked, “I have learned that in order to establish strong relationships with seniors one must first gain their trust and respect. Although I'm from a different culture, learning from seniors and sharing our experiences was very interesting and valuable experience."  

Melissa said, “This summer I developed trusting relationships with seniors that grew into friendship. As friends, the seniors and I shared health knowledge, skills and stories.” 

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I’ll Take Diabetes for $200! Making Health Education Fun for Seniors

Student Intern(s):
Julia Kelly, Temple University, College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
Manjit Singh, Temple University, School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):
Moya Kinnealy, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Temple University, College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy  

Community Preceptor(s):
Sherry Hill, NewCourtland Network, Lehigh Senior Center

The Community Site:
New Courtland’s Senior Centers, located in North Philadelphia, provide local seniors with opportunities for recreation, socialization, meals, counseling and access to health and wellness education. The agency also offers other services such as housing and nursing home care. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity; Tobacco Use
Focus Areas:  Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions; Diabetes; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Overweight; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Capitalizing on the seniors’ interests and learning styles, Julia and Manjit prepared different activities to present health-related information. They prepared presentations on diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and other topics, and they used interactive games, such as “Jeopardy” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” to promote participation and encourage discussion regarding ways of maintaining health. 

Manjit noted, “The BTG experience was tremendously helpful in exposing me to the community’s elderly population. Working with senior citizens in person everyday gave me a better understanding of their concerns. It was truly a great project site, and I am glad I got experience in that setting.”

Julia commented, “I have learned that the greatest thing I can do as a future health professional is to listen to those with whom I am working. Only then can we work together toward a solution. I had an awesome time working with the seniors; their thirst for learning and vivacious attitudes eased my fears of potentially working with seniors, as well as aging myself."

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"My internship … has affected me deeply. I have learned about the complexities of substance abuse and the struggles women face to remain clean. Working with a student from a discipline other than my own has helped me to view health issues from another perspective."
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