Older Women: Current and Future Challenges of Professionals with an Aging Population

Reducing Stigma of Aging and Dementia through Experiential Learning

Author(s): Darby Morhardt

Pp: 253-269 (17)

Doi: 10.2174/9781681083490116010016

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Background: There is evidence that the stigma regarding older adults can be modified with experiential opportunities early in medical students’ careers. The Buddy Program pairs first year medical students with persons with dementia to develop a mentoring relationship outside of the clinical setting. Methods: Using qualitative content analysis of journal entries kept over an academic year, this chapter examines the experience of a female medical student paired with a 74-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Results: Emergent themes included - 1) recognition of the evolving nature of the students’ thoughts about dementia over time, 2) the student’s awareness of the subjective response of the person with dementia, 3) the student’s own emotional reactions to the person with dementia, and 4) the student’s understanding of the family experience. Conclusion: As a result of taking part in the program, this student experienced a more holistic view of the person with dementia and her family and a changed perception of dementia and what it is like to live with it.

Keywords: Attitudes, Dementia, Health care, Medical student.

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