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.