Planning and design for an ageing population: Coursework for Re-thinking aging

Currently, I am participating in an massive online open course (MOOC) from the University of Melbourne on the topic of Re-thinking aging:  are we prepared to live longer?

The free course is offered through Coursera; it started the last week in April and runs for 5 weeks. You can read more about the course and sign up for future offerings at:

We were encouraged to keep a journal or blog about our journey through the course, particularly to note where our opinions and ideas have changed from the beginning of the course to the end. I thought this would be a great opportunity to share the course information and my opinions with you – a little something different than my usual posts 🙂 As such, this will be a work in progress over the next 5 weeks.

Week 3:  Planning and designing for an ageing population

Week 3 of the course highlights the planning and design principles for an age-friendly environment for housing, retirement communities and health care settings. Continue reading


Gloal population aging trends: Coursework for Re-thinking aging

Currently, I am participating in an massive online open course (MOOC) from the University of Melbourne on the topic of Re-thinking aging:  are we prepared to live longer?

The free course is offered through Coursera; it started the last week in April and runs for 5 weeks. You can read more about the course and sign up for future offerings at:

We were encouraged to keep a journal or blog about our journey through the course, particularly to note where our opinions and ideas have changed from the beginning of the course to the end. I thought this would be a great opportunity to share the course information and my opinions with you – a little something different than my usual posts 🙂 As such, this will be a work in progress over the next 5 weeks.

Week 1:  Worldwide Population Aging Trends

Week 1 is focused on global population aging. During this week, we heard about how aging trends are measured, what the terms mean, some of the implications of population aging, and completed our first assignment were we chose one country to examine their leading causes of disability, death and life expectancy.

future trends in life expectancy


Q:  What do you think about when you think about aging?

A: When I think about aging, I first think of older adults, typically I think of healthier and/or more active and independent older adults. Next, I think about the life course perspective, that we age throughout our entire lives and that it is a process, not one particular age category or stage of life. I tend to think more about the psychological aspects of aging such as the emotions, experiences, and personal growth that occurs as we live our lives and age.

Q:  What are some of the implications of global population aging (good and bad)? Consider work, family and society in general.

A: Some good implications of global population aging is that there is a greater potential for the knowledge and wisdom that often accompanies aging – if/when older adults have a stronger voice in their communities, there is much to be gained. Another benefit I can envision is that way of life will become easier, as we optimize many aspects of daily life so that functioning, movement, physical tasks and socialization becomes easier to carry out (an example is wider sidewalks and reduction in mobility hazards to accommodate an increasing number of people with mobility issues will actually benefit others in their community).

A negative side of global population aging is that there are fewer skilled workers to provide the important hands-on functions needed, such as in health and social care for all (not just for the older adults). Fewer younger people can also have implications for less innovation, forward-thinking development and risk-taking as older adults tend to engage in these types of activities less, especially professionally.

Assignment:  one country’s profile.

I chose Denmark. The goal of this assignment was to look deeper into the statistics on the leading causes of disability, death and the rates of life expectancy in a particular country.

Per instructions, I used data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)and their data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors study (GBD) for Denmark,, to compare Denmark and Global life expectancy.

1. How did you decide what country to select and did the country’s profile surprise you? Why or why not?

I decided on Denmark as I am living here as a foreigner and wanted to know an updated status on the aging projections for the country. I was pretty surprised to find that the main cause of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in 1990 was road injuries and that it had fallen over 60% since then (yea!). Danes are generally safe drivers and follow rules, so it was even surprising to me that road injuries was a leading cause.

2. What are the top three causes of premature death in your country in 2010? How are these different, or not, from the top three causes of premature death in 1990?

In 1990, the leading causes of YLL due to death are:
  1. Ischemic heart disease
  2. Cerebrovascular disease, and
  3. Lung cancer.
In 2013, the leading causes of YLL due to death are:
  1. Ischemic heart disease
  2. Lung cancer, and
  3. Cerebrovascular disease. (data was readily available for 2013, so I chose to use that information rather than combing back through for 2010 data).
It appears that only 2 and 3 have switched places, but the rates have fluctuted quite a bit as well. By 2013, heart disease decreased by 62%, lung cancer by 15%, and cerebrovascular disease by 36%. I would guess these decreases were in part due to national (and rather successful) campaigns to reduce smoking and increase exercise and activity. When I first moved to Denmark in 2005, 50% of the population smoked daily, down to around 20% now.
3. What are the five leading causes of Years Lived with Disability (YLDs) in your country? What is the leading cause of years with disability for those 80 years or older? It might be hard to tell on the graph so you can pick more than one.
  1.  Low back and neck pain
  2. Depressive disorders
  3. Skin diseases
  4. Sense organ diseases
  5. Falls
The leading cause of YLDs for those over 70 years old in 2013 is Non-communicable Diseases, the same as the global results. (Information for Denmark was readily available for 2013, not 2010).
4. Consider the leading causes of premature death and the leading causes of years with disability – what risk factors come to mind? Are these risk factors similar to the top three risk factors the Global Burden of Disease study highlighted? Note any differences or surprises you may have when you look at these risk factors.

The leading causes of death are heart and lung diseases/cancers and the leading causes of disability are back/neck pain, depression and skin diseases (Danes used to love to tan a lot, and recent initiatives to reduce this have been implemented). Initially, they may not look related, but thinking a bit more about them, they can be.

When people have chronic pain and/or depression, they tend to be more sedentary and socially isolated, which can increase risks for heart and lung problems over time. Skin diseases do not seem to be as related to the other causes of disability or death.

5. In looking at life expectancy – how does your country compare with the other countries listed? How does it compare between 1990 and 2010? These comparisons can help determine where your selected country is succeeding and where it could be falling behind. For the purposes of this assignment – focus on the column for ‘Life expectancy at birth’ as that is the most cited category for country comparisons.

Life expectancy in Denmark is higher than the global average. In 1990, it was 72.3 for Males and 77.8 for Females.

In 2013, this has increased to 77.8 for Males and 82.0 for Females.

For both genders combined, Denmark increased from about 75 in 1990 to around 80 in 2013.

That wraps up Week 1 of the course. Now, I would really enjoy your opinions and insights in the comments, please share what you think!

Professor Uses Spice Painting to Slow Progress of Dementia

Dr. Tisone’s scent painting activity involves mixing spices with water to make watercolor paints with the hope that the scents will bring back memories for the patients.  Students are trained to elicit conversation based on reactions to those smells.

– See more at: Professor Uses Spice Painting to Slow Progress of Dementia

Preschool + Elder Home = Awesome intergenerational program!!

This forward-thinking program brings a preschool in to a home for elders. This provides a meaningful interaction for everyone involved – the children, the elderly, the teachers, and the family members. I really hope this catches on!

Watch the video, read the article, and donate to their Kickstarter campaign! Enjoy!


‘Present Perfect’ was filmed at the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement home in Seattle, Washington, also home to the Intergenerational Learning Center. Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away. This is a film about the very young and the very old, yes. But it’s also about something bigger, something harder to pin down, but so essential in every way. It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.

From Present Perfect’s Kickstarter campaign:

“Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of the nation.” -Margaret Mead

Why is this film important?

Present Perfect explores the very real experience of aging in America- both growing up, and growing old. It was filmed in a preschool housed completely within a retirement home, powerfully capturing the subtleties and complexities of the young children’s interactions with the elderly residents, while challenging us to consider what we’re doing- and what we’re not- to prepare future generations for what’s to come. What value does a person have to others throughout their life? Are we asking for the right contributions from each other? How do we measure and define a successful life? While this film doesn’t shy away from confronting some difficult realities, it is ultimately a life-affirming story of hope that, we believe, just might lead to serious positive change.

The Present Perfect team is asking you to join us by helping us raise the money we need to create a rough cut of the film, and bring this unique and valuable story to life. We need your support to make this happen!


The inspiration for Present Perfect stemmed from a longstanding desire to explore the experience of aging in America. As a filmmaker, I’m drawn to simple, subtle stories that provide a framework for much bigger ideas, stories that promote reflection, revealing new layers of complexity that ultimately expand our way of thinking about a particular topic and even, perhaps, our entire world view. I love films that really make you think– and not just in the moment, but for days, weeks, even months following. After spending a few days observing the residents and kids at The Mount, I knew this was one of those stories.

Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away.

When I heard about the Mount and its Intergenerational Learning Center, I was struck by the simple perfection of the concept. I was further intrigued by the idea that with neither past nor future in common, the relationships between the children and the residents exist entirely in the present. Despite the difference in their years, their entire sense of time seems more closely aligned. As busy, frazzled, perpetually multi-tasking adults, we are always admonished to live ‘in the moment’. But what does that mean? And with the endless distractions provided by our smart phones and numerous other devices, how can we? I was curious to observe these two groups, occupying opposite ends of the life spectrum, to see firsthand what it meant for them to simply be present with each other.

Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society. And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is- for us all.

Over the course of the months I was filming at the Mount, I observed many incredible exchanges between residents and kids. Some were sweet, some awkward, some funny- all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real. One experience in particular occurred during a morning visit between the toddler classroom and several residents who had gathered to sing songs together. Everyone had just finished a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” when one of the residents began to share a memory he had of singing that very same song late at night on a bus full of soldiers while serving overseas during World War II.

The clarity with which this gentleman recalled this era of his life so many years ago was breathtaking- the memory seeming to appear before his eyes as he spoke. And though the kids were too young to understand his words, the fact that their presence provided a catalyst for his recollection just seemed to fit in a ‘circle of life’ kind of way. I’ve reflected on that moment many times since- it was beautiful and profound, and I was grateful to have been there to witness it. Those small, quiet moments are often the ones that contain the most meaning, and sadly are also the ones that most of us are too busy and distracted in our day-to-day lives to notice.

This is a film about the very young and the very old, yes. But it’s also about something bigger, something harder to pin down, but so essential in every way. In the words of Susan Bosak, founder of the Legacy Project, “It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Project Status

Present Perfect was filmed at the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement home in Seattle, WA, also home to the Intergenerational Learning Center, over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. This project has been one gigantic labor of love, funded entirely out of my own pocket for the first two years. I invested in new camera and audio equipment so that I could function as a one-woman crew and truly embed myself in the environment. I paid babysitters to watch my kids so that I could film three times a week for the entire school year, and I’ve spent countless hours applying for grants and pitching this film to as many people as possible. All of this in addition to juggling my regular paid work as a freelance producer and adjunct professor of film! And it doesn’t stop there. Numerous friends and colleagues have generously donated their time and talents to help get the film to where it is now, while a handful of friends and family contributed funds allowing me to hire an editor to help put together the trailer you see above. I am so grateful to everyone who has had a hand in seeing this project get off the ground.We are well on our way!

Now we need to raise enough to complete the edit. That’s where you come in! All of the feedback I have received from industry professionals as well as regular folks has been extremely positive! The project was even awarded a grant in 2013 by Artist Trust, an organization that supports Washington State artists. People are intrigued and want to see more! In order to make that happen we need to bring on an experienced documentary editor to provide a fresh perspective and help to shape the story from the amazing footage we have to work with. Fortunately the film has been shot already- the footage is in hand! But post-production is not cheap. We need to raise at least $50,000 to pay for the edit of this film.


For those of you who may not be familiar with Kickstarter, it’s an all or nothing deal. We have to raise the full amount in order to get any money at all. Any donation, no matter how small, helps in a major way! The goal is to get this project seen by as many people as possible. So in addition to giving to the campaign, you can also help by sharing this Kickstarter page and spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, phone, bike messenger, telegram, or by simply shouting it from the mountain tops!

We’ve set a goal of raising $50,000 to pay for the edit, but with $75,000 we could cover some additional costs necessary to complete the film including:

  • composition of an original score
  • color correction
  • sound mix

So if we make it to $50,000- let’s keep going!

All of the money raised by this Kickstarter campaign will go directly toward the editing of this film. We have high hopes for this project and are committed to seeing it reach its full potential. With your help, it can happen!


What would happen if you paired the very young with the very old?

It’s being done at a preschool in Seattle, where child care takes place throughout a campus which is also home to more than 400 older adults.

Called the Intergenerational Learning Center, the preschool is located within Providence Mount St. Vincent, a senior care center in West Seattle. Five days a week, the children and residents come together in a variety of planned activities such as music, dancing, art, lunch, storytelling or just visiting.

And now this incredible place is about to have its own film. Called “Present Perfect,” it was shot over the course of the 2012-2013 school year by filmmaker Evan Briggs, who is also an adjunct professor at Seattle University. Funded completely out of her own pocket and shot by her alone, Briggs has now launched a Kickstarter to fund the editing of the movie. She has more than $45,000 of her $50,000 goal with 15 days to go.

Interestingly, the parents of the students don’t send their kids to the Intergenerational Learning Center primarily for the experience with the seniors. “It’s got a great reputation and great teachers,” said Briggs. But parents of kids who were in the class that she embedded herself in for the school year now tell her they see the benefit of the model. “One father told me that he especially sees it now that his own parents are aging.”

She named the film “Present Perfect” she said, as a reference to the fact that these two groups of people — the preschoolers, who have almost no past and so much future and the elderly who such rich past but very little future — really only have a few years of overlap in their lives.

“It’s also about being in the present moment,” Briggs said, “something so many adults struggle with.”

Briggs said the moments between the kids and the residents “sweet, some awkward, some funny — all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real.”

Briggs hopes her film will open a conversation about aging in America. She writes on her Kickstarter, “Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society. And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is for us all.”

She called the preschool a “genius” idea that is “well within our reach” on a larger scale and hopes the idea expands to other schools around the country. “It’s a great example of how we integrate the elderly into society.”

European tour for professionals in aged and disability care

European tours for professionals in aged & disability care (Australia)

I came across this advertisement through the Telehealth and Telecare Aware newsletter I receive. I immediately contacted Elizabeth Dodd to see if it was possible I could join in the tour while they are here in Denmark, or if I could be of any help in finding places to visit or contacts while here. After some weeks of email correspondence to work out a price (I wouldn’t be joining the whole tour, and I won’t need any of the accommodation, meals, or transportation), we agreed that I could join the group while they are here in Denmark for 2 days and I will make a webinar for them at a later date in lieu of payment! I am SUPER excited about this!!
Continue reading

Curriculum Vitae

I have over 30 years experience volunteering and working with aging adults, and have worked as a caregiver for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and other neurological disorders both in the US and in Denmark. I have a passion for working with older adults and for working in all things dementia. I like learning new things and can get quite involved in any new “project” that I take up as my cause.

I earned a double BA with honors in Psychology and Human Services from Dakota Wesleyan University in 2003, and MSc in Applied Gerontology from the University of North Texas in 2004. In 2014, I completed my PhD fellowship in Electronic Systems at Aalborg University, where I focused on Quality of Life issues for the elderly and their caregivers in regards to Assistive Technology (gerontechnology) in dementia care.

You are welcome to check out my LinkedIn profile and connect with me there.

I also have an profile and a ResearchGate profile, where you can view most of my publications.

I am located in the wonderful city of Copenhagen, Denmark. I work in both English and Danish.

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Employment History (highlights)

Correspondent (Europe, volunteer)     May, 2016 – present

Global Health Aging

  • Contribute articles on aging issues with a global and European perspective.

Consultant in eHealth & Innovation     September, 2015 – present 

World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Division of Information, Evidence, Research, and Innovation

Copenhagen, Denmark

Trainer (volunteer)     June, 2015 – August, 2015

Community Care Smart Assistive Technology Collaborative

Sydney, Australia

Global Burden of Disease collaborator (volunteer)     September, 2013 – present

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

  • Consultant on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.
  • Review data on cause of death, cost of disease, burden of disease, and identify and assess data sources.
  • Highlight:  Co-author of multiple GBD articles for The Lancet.

Project development     May, 2015 – June, 2015

Copenhagen Living Lab (now dissolved)

Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Developing a project to bring personalized music to nursing homes in Denmark, based on the American Music & Memory model.
    • Contact with nursing homes, public health services administration, end users and their families.
    • Training on the Music & Memory program.
    • Read more about my work with Music & Memory here!

Proposal writing     April, 2015 – May, 2015

Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology at Aalborg University

Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Project management and grant proposal writing on a project using technology for prevention, early detection, and management of diabetes type 2 in aging adults.

Research Intern     June, 2014 – August, 2014

Collaboration between the Department of Aging and Handicap Services at Aalborg Municipality, Research Center for Dementia, and the Center for Welfare Technology

Aalborg, Denmark

  • Participatory observation of services offered for persons with young-onset dementia in 3 locations.
  • Evaluation of observed services in each location and proposals for continued improvement.
  • Evaluation of welfare technologies currently offered for dementia care in the Municipality and suggestions for updating a catalog of available and offered technologies.
  • Read more about my work with young-onset dementia here!

Head of Research     April, 2014 – November, 2014

I was the Head of Research and Co-founding member of a startup focusing on welfare technologies for aging adults and people with cognitive handicaps. Consulting with businesses to improve their interactive design and recommending appropriate technologies to end users and customers.


Dresden, Germany

  • Development of business plan, financial model, go-to-market strategy, etc.
  • Development of a user meta-model for the design requirements of aging adults.
  • Consulting on design and usability and made detailed recommendations for improvement for a Scottish charity offering reminiscence services in dementia care.
  • Consulting on design and usability for a German company marketing a tablet for older adults.
  • Read more about my experiences with entrepreneurship in dementia here!

Independent Consultant     March, 2014 – April, 2014

Mobiles Dynamics/CAREGIVERSPRO

Barcelona, Spain

Consulting on usability, functionality, and design for a company offering an innovative app for dementia caregivers to coordinate, manage, and track their care activities.

  • Assisted in writing project proposal for an EU-AAL project.
  • Reviewed current functions and usability and made improvement suggestions.
  • Provided research on justification of design and functions.

PhD Fellow and Research Assistant     May, 2009 – February, 2014

Department of Electronic Systems at Aalborg University

Aalborg, Denmark

  • Member of multidisciplinary teams and contributor to project proposals.
  • Teaching and supervising at the Master’s level.
  • Main contributor in European FP7 telehomecare project ISISEMD, and contributor in European ICT for active aging project LIFE 2.0.
  • Management of work packages for European Commission review.
  • Publication and public dissemination experience.
  • Volunteer reviewer for conferences and journals.
  • Member of professional societies and chair of local branches.
  • Study abroad
    • Initial research staff at the Center for TeleInFrastruktur (CTIF)-USA in collaboration with Princeton University’s Engineering School and NIKSUN (April-August, 2011).

Intern     January, 2013 – April, 2013

World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Division of Healthy Ageing, Disability and Long-term Care

Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Proposed glossary of eHealth terms.
  • Incorporating eHealth into the Global Age-friendly Cities Network.
  • Proposed thematic area of ICT for the new guide on age-friendly environments.
  • Communicated with WHO Collaboration Centers on eHealth and Telemedicine.
  • Recipient of the Herman Bouma Foundation for Gerontechnology Grant.
  • Read my internship report here!
  • Read more about my work with WHO here!

Personal Assistant     June, 2006 – August, 2008

Department of Aging and Handicap Services at Aalborg Municipality

Aalborg, Denmark

  • Provided in-home care to an individual with cerebral palsy.
  • Managed a broad range of activities, such as doctor appointments, outdoor events, concerts, international travel and social outings.
  • Personal management of Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.
  • Comfortable and familiar with using a wheelchair in nearly every situation and environment.

Personal Assistant     December, 2004 – June, 2005

Dallas, Texas USA

  • Provided in-home care to an individual with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease and managed the daily schedule.
  • Supervised and assisted with Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.
  • Arranged socially stimulating activities.
  • Monitored dietary needs and physical functioning.
  • Supported family members through respite care and professional evaluations.

Manager of Start-up Long-Term Care Facility     August – December, 2004

Arlington, Texas USA

  • Participated in starting a new business.
  • Created work schedules and supervised a staff of 3 caregivers.
  • Provided direct care to a patient with senile dementia.
  • Managed the maintenance and operation of the facility.
  • Served as the in-house aging specialist and communicated with external health care professionals.

Assistant to the Director     August – December, 2004

Alzheimer’s Association Research-based Adult Day Center

Dallas, Texas USA

  • Assisted the director of the day center in administrative tasks.
  • Engaged participants with activities.
  • Stimulated spatial, memory and object recognition functioning.
  • Encouraged socialization among the participants.
  • Maintained contact with the families.
  • Attended scientific research lectures through the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Created and conducted a wide range of activities, such as music, exercise, creativity and fantasy, current events and hand-eye coordination.

Hospice Internship     May – August, 2004

American Hospice, Inc.

DeSoto, Texas USA

  • Completed over 500 hours of volunteer work.
  • Worked with each branch of interdisciplinary care (social, psychological, medical and spiritual) to gain a holistic perspective of end of life care.
  • Increased the organization and productivity of the volunteer program, organized and audited volunteer files.
  • Increased the number of active volunteers, and supervised and trained the volunteers.
  • Reinforced contact, services and support with patients and families through bereavement services, volunteer visits and respite care.
  • Participated in weekly interdisciplinary team meetings to manage and evaluate patient care.
  • Promoted community education through speaking engagements.

Research Experience

Aalborg University

  • Member of a consortium that designed, implemented, and evaluated technologies to increase independent living and Quality of Life for people with dementia and their caregivers.
    • European-Commission funded FP7 project ISISEMD was implemented and evaluated in 4 European countries (Denmark, Finland, North Ireland and Greece).
    • Helped to design and evaluate the Clinical Trial.
    • Co-authored Ethical Application.
  • Member of a consortium that designed, implemented, and evaluated technologies to increase socialization and location-based services for active aging.
    • European-Commission funded FP7 project LIFE 2.0 ran in 3 European countries (Denmark, Finland and Spain).
  • Disseminated research through conference presentations, publications and public education.

University of North Texas

  • Project proposal and evaluation design on how older adults cope with the loss of a companion animal.

Dakota Wesleyan University

  • Designed and carried out small-scale study on health outcomes with Animal-Assisted Activities in Long-Term care.
  • Designed and carried out research on brain hemisphere dominance, handedness and academic major selection in university students.
  • Presented research at the Midwestern Psychological Association.
  • Presented research at the University Scholar Banquet Program.
  • Presented research at the Siouxland Regional Conference for Undergraduate Research in Social Sciences in 2002 and 2003.


Aalborg University in Aalborg, Denmark

PhD in Electronic Systems 2009-2013

  • Thesis topic: Using Gerontechnology in Dementia Care and the Effect on the Quality of Life in Older Adults and their Caregivers.
  • Student Branch Chair of IEEE (professional society in Electrical Engineering).

University of North Texas in Denton, Texas USA

MSc in Applied Gerontology 2003-2004

  • Emphasis in psychology and counseling.
  • Certificate in Animal-Assisted Therapy.
  • Certificate in Mediation and Aging.
  • Active member of Sigma Phi Omega, the honor society in gerontology.
  • Read more about gerontology here!

Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota USA

BA in Psychology 2000-2003

BA in Human Services 2000-2003

  • Minor in philosophy and religion.
  • Active member of Alpha Psi Omega, the honor society in theater.
  • Student Branch President of Psi Chi, the honor society in psychology.

Relevant non-degree courses

University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School:  “Innovating Solutions for Aging Populations” Read my review here!

The University of Melbourne:  “Re-thinking ageing:  Are we prepared to live longer?” Read my review here!

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:  “Positive Psychology”

University of California, Irvine:  “Essentials of Entrepreneurship:  Thinking and Action”

University of Copenhagen:  “Introduction to Global Health”

Johns Hopkins University, School of Nursing:  “The Impact of Dementia on Individuals, Families, Communities, and Societies” (Verified Certificate) Read my review here!

University of Chicago, Department of Neurobiology:  “Understanding the Brain:  The Neurobiology of Everyday Life”

University of California San Francisco, School of Medicine:  “Clinical Problem Solving”

SundhedsCenter Tårnby (Public Health Center in Copenhagen, Denmark):

  • “Sund Aldring” (Healthy Aging) Read my review here!
  • “Er vi danskere verdens lykkeligste folk?” (Are we Danes the world’s happiest people?) Read my review here!
  • “Kan de varme hænder erstattes af plastic og teknologi?” (Can warm hands be replaced by plastic and technology?)

University of Queensland, School of Psychology:  “Think101:  The Science of Everyday Thinking”

Teaching Portfolio

May, 2016:  Special lecture on happiness and eMental Health to Psychology students from St. Scholastica University. (read one student’s short post on the trip to UN City here)

August, 2015:  Provided online training and educational video on using technologies in dementia care.

Sept. 2011 – Jan. 2012:  Supervision of Master’s project on ICT Platform for Interoperable Medical Personal Health Records for Diabetes Management.

Sept. 2010/2011:  Main lecturer in Privacy, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Engineering.

May 2011:  Community education on gerontechnology through speaking at long-term care facility.

Feb. – June 2011:  Supervision of Master’s project on ICT for Aging Well at Work, Home and in the Community.

Sept. – Dec.2010:  Supervision of Master’s project on Social Networking for an Aging World.

Sept. – Dec.2010:  Supervision of Master’s project on Electronic Quality of Life Assessment.

Sept. – Dec.2010:  Main lecturer in Telemedicine Techniques and Aspects.

May – Aug. 2004:  Community education on hospice through speaking engagements at educational institutions.

Professional Society Membership

  • Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
    • IEEE Women in Engineering
    • IEEE Communications Society
    • IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology
    • EEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
    • Chair of the IEEE Student Branch at Aalborg University 2012-2013
  • Society of Women Engineers
  • American Telemedicine Association
  • American Society for Quality
  • Gerontological Society of America
  • International Society for Gerontechnology
  • National Association for Professional Engineers
  • Assistive Technology Professionals
  • Danish Society of Engineers, Ingeniørforeningen IDA
  • Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
  • Dansk Gerontologisk Selskab
  • Alzheimerforeningen

FREE course on supporting people living with dementia!

The University of Derby is now offering a free online (MOOC) course on dementia! The course runs 6 weeks starting from July 13, and the only requirements are that you need to have access to a computer and internet, and have a decent understanding of English.

This free, six-week course will help you learn how to improve the lives of people with dementia, adopting a person-centred and integrated approach. It is suitable for anyone interested in dementia or for carers of people with dementia.

I already signed up! Find out more by clicking the title below:

Bridging the Dementia Divide: Supporting People Living with Dementia

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates there are currently 35.6 million people living with dementia, a number which will double by 2030 and triple by 2050 (WHO, 2012). Dementia has already had a significant impact on society, and this will only increase.

With this in mind it is important for society to understand the challenges of living with dementia as well as to understand the importance of the correct care for people with dementia.

This course will look at  the global challenge of dementia. It focuses on integrative collaboration and partnership working to reduce barriers between servicesand to provide seamless care for people living with dementia.

This course will help you understand the level of care required when caring for someone with dementia, as well as teaching you about communication and compassion, and how you can help the person living with dementia to maintain independence, control and a good quality of life.

We will also consider what happens at the end of life: the reality is that there is currently no cure for dementia and the final phase of life can be a challenge not just for the person living with dementia but also their family and other people around them.

During this course you can expect to:

  • demonstrate a conceptual understanding of dementia, its context and wider perspectives
  • examine dementia in the global context and it’s implications
  • learn to communicate effectively with people affected by dementia
  • understand the importance of independence, control and quality of life and learn how you can support that
  • support people living with dementia and their families during the final phase of life

What is a gerontologist?

Aging is nothing new to societies; however, the term gerontology was first used in 1903. Contemporary gerontology, as a scientific field of study, began in the early to mid-1900s, with a notable boom after 1990. While those who work with aging adults may be familiar with the term gerontology, it is not widely known in the general public. I thought I would write a bit on what gerontology is and what a gerontologist does.

What is Gerontology?

The word gerontology comes from the Greek word geron, meaning “old man,” and the Greek word –logia, meaning “study of.” Gerontology is different from geriatrics, which is the branch of medicine that specializes in the treatment of older adults – the opposite of pediatrics.

Gerontology is the study of aging, focusing on the biological, psychological, cognitive, and sociological aspects of aging. Gerontologists view aging in terms of four distinct processes: chronological aging, biological aging, psychological aging, and social aging.  Continue reading

Alzheimer’s Reading Room

If you haven’t checked out the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, I recommend heading over there after you finish reading my blog. It was founded by Bob DeMarco, who is a noted leader in the Alzheimer’s community, having done many lectures, speaking engagements, and building the Alzheimer’s Reading Room to educate all.

The goal of the Alzheimer’s Reading Room is to Educate and  Empower Alzheimer’s caregivers, their families, and the entire Alzheimer’s community.

At its core the Alzheimer’s Reading Room is about helping members of the Alzheimer’s Community understand, cope, and communicate with persons living with Alzheimer’s and related dementia.

Advocating for better treatment of individuals with dementia

This post is from Dementia Alliance International (DAI), who promote education and awareness about dementia. The original text may be slightly modified for this post.

Kate Swaffer’s keynote speech highlights some of the most relevant issues in dementia care and living with dementia:  the need to address the individual, not just their symptoms; human rights issues; balance in dementia research funding; rehabilitation and palliative care in dementia care plans; better diagnostics; delaying institutionalization; inclusion; breaking stigma – I mean, wow, she really gave a great speech! She also touches on two other important topics:  psychosocial stimulation and maintaining work and contribution to society, mentioning her own experience and drive to continue contribution through advocacy.

She is a champion in breaking down stigma and raising awareness for people with dementia, particularly young-onset dementia (before age 65). Head on over to her website, have a read, and sign up to follow her.

Continue reading

Spread the facts on Alzheimer’s disease

For A Disease Being The 6th Leading Cause Of Death, We Don’t Hear Enough About It

Check out this video on the latest Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures from the Alzheimer’s Association in the US.
The Alzheimer’s Association has stated that if Alzheimer’s was eliminated, 500,000 lives would be saved per year in the United States alone.
Please watch the video. 
Please share the facts. 
Please tell others about your personal stories!

Film review! “Still Alice”

Still Alice

The film “Still Alice” premiered in Denmark on March 5, 2015. I went to see it the following Sunday. It was a really sunny day, so it was kind of a shame to spend it inside a theatre, but I will say it was so nice to come outside into the sunshine afterwards.

While I have seen that there have been many reviews of the film, I was careful not to read them until I had seen it for myself. I think it’s nice to come in with a fresh set of eyes and to not be influenced by other people’s opinions until after forming some of my own.

Continue reading

Drugs that can cause memory loss


10 Drugs that can cause memory problems

For a long time doctors dismissed forgetfulness and mental confusion as a normal part of aging. But scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable. Indeed, the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape their connections throughout life.

Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

Forgetful? Your prescription meds could be interfering with your memory. — Larry Williams/Corbis

But what many people don’t realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.

Continue reading

Webpage design and aging

Since I started this blog, I have been frustrated with the small font. So, today, I have had enough! I decided to learn to code in order to increase the font size so that more people can read the site. The font is a little small for me, too, and I’m only 33 so I don’t think it’s due to age-related vision changes. Well, coding did not go so well and I didn’t want to pay to upgrade my site as I am not making money off of it or promoting a business. In the end, I decided to go with another design theme that already has larger font.

Great, so now I have larger font and hopefully everyone can read my posts, at least better than before. But, with the new theme, I have to manually change the colors of hyperlinks. This means, that if I don’t want to go and change the color of the text each time I put a link to another website or post (and I don’t), it’s a little tricker for people to know that it is even a link! I try to put some leading text, like “read more here,” but I must say I am frustrated that can’t accommodate readers of all ages and ability levels without the author paying for it (and I’m not even sure you can after you buy their premium package).

In further trying to make my site accessible for anyone who would want to visit, I used a few web sites that have some good information worth sharing with all of you. I had also made a blog post on Errorless Learning and design of technologies for aging adults. This was part of the work for the start-up I was involved in for the past year. That post doesn’t necessarily fit in with the Dementia Adventure theme, but I will likely be posting it here anyway, at least to get the information out to the public.

In the meantime, please take a look at the handful of websites I link below. I hope you get some inspiration for updating your website as well!

4 Easy Steps to Make Your Site More Usable to Older People

National Institute on Aging:  Making your website senior friendly 

Designing for Seniors 

Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland:  Universal usability web design guidelines for the elderly (age 65 and older)

Designing for Senior Citizens

Wiser Usability

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative:

Web accessibility and older people:  meeting the needs of ageing web users

Developing websites for older people:  how web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 applies

 You can also find some great information on Slideshare.