Elizabeth Orr

Kyle Robbins Law Firm Scholarship

When reflecting on the quote provided, a prompt to answer came to me almost immediately. I work as a caregiver at a memory care facility during my off-semesters from university, in which I care directly and personally with elders affected by late-stage dementia. I went through the basic training required when I was first hired in January of 2022, which included both cares and dementia specific training simulations.

After working for a few months, I felt like the training provided inadequate to understand the situations I faced each day with my residents. Once I understood that dementia would manifest differently from each resident, the behaviors, words and actions of each of my different residents began to make more sense. I was learning how to navigate these tough behaviors and respond positively to the negative ones.

I had one resident who was in a different physical state than the others, who I learned had both dementia and Parkinsons’ disease. I noticed his motor function and tremors and was able to observe how it affected him. Because of this, his needs were a little different than the other residents. When discovering this information, I sought out information to form my own basic understanding of Parkinsons’, as my basic training in no way covered Parkinsons’ disease.

In November of 2023, I had the opportunity to give a presentation to my anatomy professor on a subject of my choosing. I chose to give this presentation on how Parkinsons’ disease affects one’s gait. At the time, we were covering lower extremity anatomy in lecture, so my professor gave me the prompt of presenting on gait, but with my own “spin” on it. I remembered how my resident’s Parkinsons’ progressed and how his gait was affected, and I instantly knew what I wanted to present on. In doing research, I learned about what region of the brain is most affected by Parkinsons’ and how each specific nuclei in that region are affected. I began to connect my personal observations with the information I was collecting and studying. I recalled situations with my resident and was eventually able to draw my conclusions on how Parkinsons’ was affecting him anatomically.

I received an amazing review from my professor, who asked if he could use my presentation and sources in his class lessons in the future. I was very proud of this presentation and realized that my initial experience and knowledge had grown into wisdom that I was able to share. I applied this wisdom to my resident, and for the rest of his life, I was happy that I could understand him on a different level.

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