Public health faculty and students published on compassion between the young and elderly

Angela Ekwonye, PhD, and a team of public health students and faculty were published for Gerontology and Geriatrics Education Journal with their article, “We will all age and one day be older adults ourselves: college students’ reflections on facilitating compassionate presence.” 

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Ekwonye and the team report that college students are likely to hold negative ageist views and attitudes toward older people. The compassionate presence (CP) intervention could be a promising approach to reduce ageist attitudes that younger adults have of older adults. In the study, college students were trained virtually in deep, active, and compassionate listening and regularly visited assigned older adults living in assisted-living facilities. After the CP training and throughout the intervention, the St. Kate’s team noted a positive shift in perception, knowledge, and attitudes toward older adults and aging. Students built meaningful social bonds with older adults, developed strong communication and interpersonal skills, and acquired research and core leadership skills needed for future careers and professional practice.