Older adults and medical students are learning a lot from each other thanks to a partnership between Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) and Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.
Every other month, these students present Health & Wellness sessions for the residents of Richmond Terrace, an LSS Assisted Living Community in Richmond Heights, Missouri. The partnership fosters collaboration and mutual growth as the residents of Richmond Terrace learn how to improve their health, while the students practice their patient education skills through community engagement in its truest form.
“The collaboration enriches all the people who participate in leading Health & Wellness sessions for the residents of Richmond Terrace,” said Dr. Lisa Zickuhr, Assistant Professor and Director of the Medicine Clerkship. “Internal Medicine Residents who are cultivating their teaching skills as part of the Teaching Physician Pathway are able to practice their education techniques and design materials for the sessions.”
The students created six presentations to share with Richmond Terrace residents based on topics selected by the residents through an interest survey. Each 90-minute session included both a wellness activity and an interactive lecture. Each session has been taught by two to four medical students, with a primary care physician overseeing.
“We have really enjoyed having the student Health & Wellness presentations,” said Anne Stumpf, Richmond Terrace Manager of Lifestyle Enrichment. “The students are eager to teach, and the residents have fun engaging in the activities with the students. They really enjoy the intergenerational interaction!”
Connecting with residents provides students with opportunities to not only help older adults by imparting information, but also by learning best practices to communicate with older adults.
“The students receive opportunities to engage with the St. Louis community and older adults at Richmond Terrace while honing their patient education skills. And the residents of Richmond Terrace enjoy learning about Health & Wellness topics. We are grateful for our partnership,” said Dr. Zickuhr.
In a recent session about joint health, residents shared their experiences with joint pain and the students shared tips to manage it. “They told us, ‘The more muscle around the joint, the more support it has.’ And then they showed how to build muscle,” said Stumpf.
After leading the residents through some joint strengthening movements, the students made “exercise balls” out of balloons and flour so they could exercise their joints on their own. “We laughed as we struggled to get flour in the balloons,” said Stumpf.
Other sessions have shown residents how to monitor their blood pressure and the importance of nutrition.
“I think it’s a good thing for young medical students to spend time getting to know seniors,” said Nancy, a Richmond Terrace resident.