Reducing Stigma of Aging and Dementia through Experiential Learning
Pp. 253-269 (17)
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.
Attitudes, Dementia, Health care, Medical student.
Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer`s Disease Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, United States.