A View Into Aging: Seniors Mentoring DPT Students

Purpose : The purpose of this report is to describe a Senior Mentor program utilized by one Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program to facilitate studentsÕ learning and appreciation of the diversity in the aging process, lifestyle factors that contribute to successful aging, and the implications these have for their role as physical therapists.Description : As part of the geriatric curricular content, second year DPT students are paired with an older adult who is aging successfully in the community. Senior mentors are recruited by the DPT faculty and at times, referred by current senior mentors. Potential senior mentors are provided information about the program and if interested, sign a consent form agreeing to serve as a senior mentor. Over the course of a semester the student and senior mentor meet 3-4 times. The date, time, and location of meetings are determined by each mentor and student. Students are provided with a list of guiding topics and questions to initiate conversation. Suggested topics are designed to integrate classroom content and include subjects such as participation in health and wellness activities, views on successful versus unsuccessful aging, experience with age-related changes, spirituality with aging, changes in social life with aging, and balance and falls. One of two faculty members is assigned to each student as a Ôsenior mentor coachÕ that students can contact with any questions or concerns. During the semester the faculty coaches meet twice with their assigned students for a senior mentor debrief. During the debrief the faculty member facilitates a discussion of what students are learning about normal aging, generational differences, how assumptions/stereotypes may have shifted, what has been most meaningful and how students will use what they have learned when interacting with older adults. Additionally, the concurrent geriatrics course provides opportunities for students to share what they have learned through various classroom activities and assignments. The mentor experience ends with a student led appreciation event.Summary of Use : Quantitative and qualitative assessment data from DPT students was collected during debrief sessions and at the end of the geriatrics course. Data indicate students value the senior mentor program. Data also show students gain insight into 1) aging as a potentially positive stage of life rather than one of eminent decline, 2) the impact of normal age-related changes, 3) factors that lead to successful aging, and 4) the diversity in the aging process. Global rating of change surveys completed at the end of the geriatrics course show students perceive a positive change in their ability to interact with older adults. They rate this change as important for their future clinical practice.Importance to Members: A Senior Mentor program may be of interest to academic faculty who wish to enhance DPT studentsÕ preparation for clinical practice in an aging society.

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  • Control #: 2016789
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Deborah A. Madanayake, Debra O. Sellheim
  • Keywords: senior mentor|geriatric curriculum development|physical therapist education

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