Written by Danielle Friz, BSN candidate at Washington University in St. Louis and participant in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program
My experience in the Summer Research Program, Aging & Neurological Diseases Track so far has been engaging, educational and exciting in so many ways. Since I have enjoyed so many aspects of the program, I will talk about my overall experience and the benefits I saw in the different sessions thus far. As a hybrid program, our sessions have been in-person and virtual and have included varying forms of media. Some of my favorite speaker presentations have been from Karla T. Washington, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Medicine and Justin M. Long, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the School of Medicine.
Dr. Washington’s “Palliative Care 101” presentation was very interesting to me because I often work in the hospital with patients receiving palliative care. Her presentation reinforced the idea that palliative care reflects person-centered care, in that palliative care addresses symptom relief and comforting measures that align with the patient’s goals.
Dr. Long’s “Dementia Diagnosis & Management: Diseases of the Nervous System” presentation taught me about the astronomical burden that Alzheimer’s disease poses on the healthcare system. According to Dr. Long’s presentation, caring for people with Azheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion per year by 2050, a large increase from the current estimated cost of $203 billion per year.
In addition to the speaker presentations, I’ve also enjoyed the documentaries we have watched, including The Alzheimer’s Project: The Memory Loss Tapes and Brain Works: The Theatre of Neuroscience – Double Windsor. The Alzheimer’s Project: The Memory Loss Tapes showcased the journeys of multiple individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Watching their struggles and triumphs of managing Alzheimer’s disease was quite emotional, especially considering how the disease has not only impacted the individual but their loved ones as well. Brain Works: The Theatre of Neuroscience – Double Windsor utilized theatrical arts to showcase the journey of a stroke victim working through recovery with his providers and spouse.
These Summer Research Program experiences, along with many others, have taught me many new things and reinforced my passion for the aging and neurological diseases community. I am fortunate that I was able to participate in the program again this summer, and very much look forward to what else is in store!