Sensitizing students to functional limitations in the elderly: an aging simulation

Fam Med. 1998 Jan;30(1):15-8.


Background and objectives: Using activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) as a focus, faculty at Eastern Virginia Medical School provide an aging simulation exercise for a mandatory fourth-year clerkship in geriatrics. The specific aims of the simulation are to 1) experience the physical frailties of aging, 2) develop creative problem-solving techniques, 3) identify feelings regarding the experience of functional loss, and 4) develop proactive clinical approaches to the care of the elderly.

Methods: Students are assigned one of four diagnoses (Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, advanced diabetes, or stroke) and are then impaired to simulate the frailties of the condition, using a variety of clothes, bindings, and other devices. In their "impaired states," they perform ADLs and IADLs, such as paying bills, organizing their pills, shopping, toileting, dressing, and eating.

Results: Evaluation results show the aging simulation to be the highest rated program in the clerkship. A pre- and post-course survey on attitudes toward the elderly showed a statistically significant improvement in students' attitudes toward the elderly following the course.

Conclusions: Simulation exercises in aging are useful activities for helping students better understand the feelings and needs of the elderly.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Teaching / methods
  • Virginia