Grad students discuss healthy aging and recent well elderly study

Healthy aging event 8-19-11

On August 18, at two sessions, OT students Rukii Marenwolf (Kaitlin Rodriquez) and Vironica Loxingly (Veronica Souter) gave a presentation and discussion on Healthy Aging. Held at the Garden of Healthy Aging, the event produced some very interesting discussion, a bit of controversy, and suggestions for new ventures. Here is a short excerpt from their talk:

People are living longer so it is important to learn how to keep people healthy as they age. Occupational Therapists believe that engaging in meaningful activities is essential in order to live a healthy life at any age. To continue to be as healthy as possible into late adulthood a person should continue living a healthy lifestyle and doing the things that are important to him or her. This study is extremely important because it shows that changes in lifestyle can be used to help prevent the onset of illness and disability.

Rukii and Vironica combined presentation of the Well Elderly 2 study with questions such as “Have any of you made any lifestyle changes?” and discussion of strategies participants had found beneficial to them. The presenters and participants all emphasized the importance of small changes but consistent changes in daily activities directed by the person him/herself.
Controversy came in when all discussed the issue of “whose responsibility is a person’s health?” Rukii and Vironica brought up the point that it’s one thing to hear a healthcare provider’s advice but may be quite another to actually put lifestyle changes into practice. All agreed that the approach of most physicians is prescriptive and focuses on “fixing a problem;” this needs to change to more fully include consumer perspectives. This brings to mind Linda Hunt et. al.’s seminal work, Compliance and the patient’s perspective: Controlling symptoms in everyday life. Although published in 1987, findings of the study are equally relevant today and make the point that changes must fit well into the person’s lifestyle and their own ideas about what is best for them. The second author, Brigitte Jordan has made this publicly accessible via her blog–a highly recommended and thought-provoking read for any interested in the topic of patient compliance/consumer adherence.

An exciting development was the suggestion by two participants that we form a group to discuss issues of healthy aging. All agreed that there are many on Second Life who could benefit from such a group. We will be discussing the feasibility/possible directions of this in the next several weeks so stay tuned!