Interdisciplinary Case Studies in Clinical Gerontology

We are living longer and often with more chronic, rather than acute, problems. These issues may involve care from several different disciplines as well as understanding the environments and families of older adults.

Increasingly we are organizing care and support in a more holistic manner around the needs and desires of the older person rather than within various care systems. Truly, their care now rests on a three-legged stool with the older adult, family or informal caregivers, and professionals as the three legs. All three are needed in order to provide the best assistance to older adults. Therefore, it is important that we understand the different perspectives that each brings to the caregiving experience and that the wishes of the older adult should govern the selection of care options wherever possible.

Since care is provided by a variety of professionals such as social workers, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, speech and hearing therapists, and nurses, it is important to understand the background of these disciplines and how they can work together. Interdisciplinary case studies on a wide variety of issues will be used as the teaching tool for in-depth study of these issues.

The course will provide students with:

  1. an opportunity to collaborate on issues related to health, social, cultural, and ethnic diversity among older adults living in urban, rural, homebound, and long-term care settings;
  2. an understanding of the chronic health problems faced by older adults such as arthritis, hearing loss, low vision, speech and communication difficulties, and memory loss.
  3. an understanding of the role of informal caregivers such as family members and friends and how they can work with the formal caregiving system;
  4. an awareness of the various assessment tools used by professionals working with older adults;
  5. an understanding of the ethics of long term care in the community and in congregate housing; and
  6. an understanding of an holistic approach to the care of older adults and the role of the various helping professions.