Summary Synthesis

My Interdisciplinary Studies major is Health Science. It incorporates health education, science, and human development. It has allowed me to explore my interests and build an undergraduate degree that will prepare me to be a well-rounded healthcare professional. If you would like to learn more about my major, click here!

My applied project involved two different experiences. First, I shadowed a local dental hygienist. Second, I educated members of the Pemi Youth Center about nutrition and oral health. I chose this for my project because I wanted to learn more about a career in dentistry and also positively influence the community. This project allowed me to incorporate all of the disciplines I have been learning about and apply that knowledge. If you would like to learn more about my project, please click here.

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Cooking with children from the Pemi Youth Center

My research article focused on Alzheimer’s Disease. I shared a personal story about my grandmother, multiple preventative measures, and information about patient care. This article expanded my knowledge about a very popular disease in our country. It also allowed me to analyze the disease from different perspectives. I chose this topic because I have been personally impacted by it and I know it is easy to relate to for a lot of people. If you would like to read my article, click here!

The Notebook

Noah and Allie from The Notebook

http://www.lamag.com/wellbeing/forget/

The Health Science program I created gave me the freedom to learn about what I care most about, people and science. All the courses I have taken, my applied project, and my research article have provided me with the knowledge to be successful in the world of healthcare. I will carry what I have learned and experienced here at PSU with me for the rest of my life in order to help people live healthier lives.

Let’s Change the Odds: Interdisciplinary Analysis of Alzheimer’s Disease

“What a nice surprise!” my grandma exclaimed as I walked into the dining room. She was sitting across from her new friend enjoying a hot dog and fries. This was the first time I had seen my grandmother in six months. She had moved into an assisted living facility and the staff explained to my father, her primary caretaker, that it would be easier for her to transition if she didn’t have too many visitors. Knowing my grandmother’s condition, I did not want to wait any longer to visit her so my mother and I stopped by for lunch. I felt a sense of relief as soon as we entered the room because I knew that she still remembered who I was.

My father had visited the assisted living facility earlier that day to remind my grandmother that we were coming for lunch but it was clear that she had forgotten. He has been taking care of my grandmother for about three years and helped her transition into the facility she is in now. It has been difficult to watch my father’s life become consumed by caring for his mother but I know that I would do the same for him. He has shown more love and patience than I could have ever imagined.

My mother and I sat down next to her and decided to order lunch while she finished hers. She introduced her friend and then introduced us to her friend’s dog as well. The dog is a Chihuahua named T-Rex. My grandmother has simply fallen in love with the little guy. This, however, was very comical to my mother and I because she has never been an animal person in the past. She excused herself from the table at least four times to play with him.

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My grandmother and T-Rex

We chatted briefly about her “new” home that she claimed she had only been living in for around five days now. Although she didn’t understand that she had been there for six months she had only positive things to say about where she was living. This was the most comforting part of the whole visit; we knew she was happy where she is. We engaged in pleasant conversation about what was going on with different family members including my brother and I. She didn’t remember that I was in college but she was truly excited about my future. When it was time to leave my grandmother and her new friend walked us outside. We said our goodbyes and went on our way. My father stopped by about fifteen minutes later to bring my grandmother something and she was still outside with her friend. She did not remember that my mother and I had been there for lunch. As you may have already guessed, my grandmother has Alzheimer’s Disease.

WHAT EXACTLY IS ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE (AD)

Most people understand that Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) typically impacts the older population and alters their memory but there can be a lot of grey area when it comes to understanding exactly what the disease is. According to the National Institute of Aging (2017), Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia which causes “an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.” AD is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who was the first person to discover abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers in the brain tissue of a woman who passed away due to mental illness. The abnormal clumps are now referred to as amyloid plaques and the tangled bundles of fibers are referred to as neurofibrillary or tau tangles. The third main contributor to AD is the decrease in nerve cells (neurons) in the brain that allow for communication between different parts of the body.

The prevalence of AD in the United States is enormous and there is currently no cure. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2017), “an estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease.” This prevalence translates to “one in 10 people age 65 and older have Alzhemier’s dementia”. These numbers are astonishing and growing. AD is also listed as “the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States”. The immense influence that this disease has on our world has motivated research to establish preventative measures and hopefully, one day, the cure.

NUTRITION

The first element of preventative research that I chose to investigate is the connection between nutrition and AD. So much of what I have learned about the human body is impacted by what we eat. The link between diet and brain health has been highlighted for years now. The trouble with nutrition is that everyone makes different choices and has access to different sources. When it comes to nutrition there is no ‘one size fits all’. People choose certain dietary restrictions/habits, have access to certain foods, can only afford certain foods, and sometimes suffer from different medical conditions (mental, physical, or emotional). It is my goal to acknowledge all of these differences and outline how nutrition is associated with AD.

“Think of your brain as the finely tuned engine of your car. If you give your car low quality fuel, the engine may break down before its time” (Isaacson & Ochner, 2016). The increasing amount of poor dietary decisions in the United States is a prime example of this ‘low quality fuel’. Processed foods high in fats and sugar are big contributors to the obesity epidemic. As a result, excess body fat contributes to many different health issues such as heart disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, and poor brain health. Isaacson & Ochner (2016) highlight the impact of obesity on brain health; “research shows that those who have a higher BMI and waist-to-hip ratio tend to see both lower total brain volume and greater shrinkage of the hippocampus (the brain’s memory center)”. This association between excess body fat and poor memory can often be traced back to the consumer’s dietary habits.

Isaacson & Ochner (2016) also outlined the work of scientists who studied aging Okinawan people. This research supported the idea that excess body fat can influence memory later in life. The research not only supported this idea, but also uncovered a possible preventative dietary treatment for AD. Okinawan people have one of the highest life expectancies on Earth. Caloric restriction has been identified as one of the main reasons why. “On average, Okinawans consumed between 1,800 and 1,900 calories each day, and typically had BMIs between 18 and 22. By way of contrast, the average American eats between 1,800 and 2,600 calories and has a BMI of 26.5.” It is not only the food we eat but how much. The overconsumption of calories in the United States has become the norm. Whereas, in Okinawa the people tend to follow the mindset “eat until 80% full”.

Following the discussion of caloric restriction, it is important to acknowledge that malnutrition has been identified as an additional risk factor for AD (Hu, Yu, Tan, Wang, Sun, & Tan, 2013). Caloric restriction is different from malnutrition in the sense that those practicing caloric restriction are still exposed to the necessary nutrients they need to maintain a healthy body. According to Hu et al. (2013), “the mean prevalence of malnutrition in AD patients living at home is 5%”. Results have shown that chronic malnutrition can lead to cognitive decline (Ogawa, 2014). Common indicators associated with malnutrition are “loss of appetite, poor food intake, pain and acute gastrointestinal symptoms” (Ogawa, 2014). Weight loss associated with malnutrition can also lead to an accelerated decline for those with AD. Alzheimer’s patients who experience weight loss can increase their chances of infection, ulcers, and falls.

Another nutritional risk factor outlined by Venturini et al. (2014) is the dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier caused by saturated fats and cholesterol. Most of the drugs produced to treat AD currently address cell-to-cell communication instead of cerebrovascular function. Research suggests four different ways in which cholesterol may impact AD. (1) Cholesterol impacts the age of onset, (2) stimulates an amyloid-precursur-protein, (3) higher plasma cholesterol levels in midlife are associated with AD, and (4) drugs used to lower cholesterol reduce the chances of having AD. Dietary fats contribute to the increase in presence of cholesterol which does not pass through the blood-brain-barrier (Venturini et al., 2014). All of these associations between cholesterol levels and AD give reason to maintain healthy levels and avoid foods high in saturated fats.

The consumption of saturated fats should be limited but the consumption of others fats may act as a preventative measure for AD. According to Morris (2012), “persons in the highest quintile of n-6 polyunsaturated fat intake had a 70% lower risk of AD compared with persons in the first quintile”. Omega-3 fatty acids are a common type of polyunsaturated fat present in fish. Therefore, the consumption of fish may have preventative properties for AD. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is the most abundant omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in neuronal membranes. DHA has been identified as an important dietary component for brain function in adults. Since fish is the main source of DHA, scientists have analyzed the relationship between fish consumption and AD. Research shows that people who consumed one fish meal or more a week had a 60% lower risk of developing AD.

Barnard et al. (2014) lists replacing meat and dairy with vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains as one of the dietary guidelines for prevention of AD. These food sources provide the micronutrients essential for brain function. They are also low in saturated and trans fat. “In both the Chicago Health and Aging Project and the Nurses’ Health Study cohorts, high vegetable intakes were associated with reduced cognitive decline” (Barnard et al., 2014). Another guideline listed is the intake of Vitamin E from foods. Some of the best sources of Vitamin E include seeds, whole grains, nuts, and leafy green vegetables.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

The second element of preventative research that I chose to investigate is the connection between physical activity and AD. People are sitting more, spending less time outside, driving instead of walking, and spending more time in front of screens. This increase in physical inactivity may cause poor health later in life. According to the World Health Organization, in order to maintain proper cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, and to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases and depression, adults ages 18-64 should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Although this guideline doesn’t mention AD, research suggests that engaging in this level of physical activity may play an important part in decreasing the risk of developing the disease. Ginnis et al. (2017), reviewed 33 studies involving the association between physical activity and AD. The authors came to the conclusion “that an active lifestyle seems to have a protective effect on brain functioning and may also slow the course of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Loprinzi (2015) compared the physical activity levels of those at risk for AD to those not at risk. The results indicated that those who weren’t at risk engaged in more physical activity than those who were at risk. He listed “changes in neurotrophins, oxidative damage, cerebral metabolism and circulation, and amyloid-beta levels” as associative properties for the protective role of physical activity against AD risk. Regular participation in more than 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was highlighted as playing the most significant protective role. Promotion of physical activity at an early age could potentially decrease the risk of developing AD for future generations.

Alzheimer's Association.jpg

CC BY: Alzheimer’s Association

https://www.flickr.com/photos/greaterillinois/

            Many people use physical activity as a coping mechanism for stress. Stress has been identified as a major risk factor for AD. Torosa-Martinez and Clow (2012) investigated the ability of physical activity to reduce the risk for AD by interacting with the stress neuroendocrine system. They concluded that “voluntary regular physical activity decreases HPA axis response to psychological stress, promotes angiogenesis and neurogenesis within the hippocampus, improves cognitive function, reduces amyloid load, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress while increasing BDNF and serotonin function.” This conclusion includes a lot of complex terms from the research so I will break down certain aspects of it.

One of the early indicators of patients with AD is HPA axis dysfunction which causes elevated cortisol levels leading to the progression of the disease. Angiogenesis and neurogenesis within the hippocampus help prevent loss of volume and neurons in an area of the brain which processes and stores memories. The amyloid load refers to the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain which are one of the main causes of AD. Oxidative stress is a common factor in neurodegenerative disease which occurs when there’s an overproduction of aerobic metabolism products. BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) levels are decreased in AD patients which causes a decrease in brain plasticity and neurogenesis. This collection of positive results associated with physical activity suggests that it certainly could reduce risk factors for AD but further research needs to be done.

Phillips, Baktir, Das, Lin, & Salehi (2015) took a similar approach to researching how AD and physical activity are connected. They used different characteristics typically present in patients with AD and analyzed whether or not physical activity levels had any influence on them. The first characteristic, amyloid plaque plasma deposition, was reduced in those who reported higher levels of physical activity. Tau tangles, which cause atrophy and dysfunction of neurons, were also lessened due to physical activity. Synapses, the location of communication between neurons, may function better as result of regular physical activity. Hippocampal neurogenesis, which improves memory function, was shown to improve due to physical activity. Neurotrophin levels, proteins that help maintain neurons, can be normalized by physical activity. Evidence suggests that a decrease in systemic inflammation and positive immune health can be associated with physical activity. Many AD patients must be institutionalized due to sleep disturbance and physical activity levels are shown to positively influence circadian rhythms.

Lastly, people who already have AD have shown improvement in cognition from an increase in physical activity levels. This study encompassed a wide variety of variables that impact both those at risk and those whom already have AD. A lot of the results were derived from tests involving mice or rats. With that being said, there are many areas that require further investigation. The general trends point towards a positive association between physical activity levels and the risk of developing AD.

PATIENT CARE

The last element of AD that I wanted to cover involves patient care instead of preventative measures. There are millions of people already living with AD that need support now. The elderly population is bigger than ever and as previously stated one in 10 people over 65 will suffer from this disease. This is why I believe it’s important to discuss different approaches to caring for people with AD. After watching what my father has gone through with his mother it is clear how difficult it is cope with this type of neurodegeneration.

The Notebook

Los Angeles Magazine

http://www.lamag.com/wellbeing/forget/

            If this image doesn’t already pull on your heart strings it sure will after you’ve seen the movie. The Notebook (2004), is a love story based on the book written by Nicholas Sparks. It is a beautiful example of how far a dedicated caretaker will go for the person they love. Noah (left) visits Allie (right) every day and reads to her even though she doesn’t usually remember that he is the love of her life. Allie has Alzheimer’s Disease.

Caring for a family member with AD is not easy. To put things into perspective, “More than half of all dementia and Alzheimer’s caregivers report emotional stress as “high or very high,” almost 40 percent suffer from depression; and share that the physical and emotional costs of caregiving equate to $9.7 billion in health care costs of their own” (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2015). One of the main reasons that family members have begun to take over caregiving is the shortage of facilities available for the growing number of patients. Many of these caregivers aren’t trained to handle certain situations or don’t fully understand the extent of the disease. Although they may have the best intentions, some methods of care are more effective than others.

Spencer (2017) investigated different caregiving techniques with a special focus on deception. One of the methods described is called Shared Reality. This is used in order to avoid causing stress and confusion to the patient. Many times AD patients don’t have a completely factual reality and it is more helpful for the caregiver to just play along with their reality. Validation Therapy is another technique listed that involves making the patient feel as if their emotions are okay instead of trying to argue them. It may seem strange to use the word deception when referring to caregiving, but when working with AD patients there can be a time and place for it. In order to enter the world of someone with dementia sometimes the caregiver must be able to put their factual reality aside. The study concluded that although deception challenges the social norm of telling the truth it can make things easier for both the patient and the caregiver.

Another interesting part of AD patient care is the dynamic between professional and family caregivers. Those who have been caring for their loved one can find it difficult to transfer some of their control to a professional whom they might not know very well. Carpentier and Grenier (2012) studied the relationships between families and professional systems in order to help improve the ways in which the two interact. The article focuses on four caregivers who created the best connections with formal care resources. In conclusion, the study explained that “the challenges related to linkage phenomena will not simply be solved by minor adjustments or establishing new programs. The medical system must also adapt, moving from model of standardized programs to an approach that incorporates the unforeseen, uncertain, and diverse viewpoints”. It will require training for practitioners and institutions in order to form trusting and supportive relationships with families. If professional systems can improve their ability to build relationships with caregivers, then the needs of AD patients can be met more successfully.

CONCLUSION

My exposure to AD certainly inspired my interest in preventative measures and patient care. I am lucky that my grandmother has a happy outlook and upbeat spirit, but I can’t help wish that she could still understand the world the way that she used to. I hope that one day soon we can find the cure but as research has suggested I believe there are ways in which we can take action early, in order to decrease the risk of developing AD in future generations. In this paper I outlined nutrition and physical activity as two preventative measures because those are two factors in life that we have a decent amount of control of. My question is what other important measures can we take to reduce the prevalence of this disease in our world? Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge that what we are doing in the present is going to influence what we experience in the future. After this involved investigation there is still a clear indication that AD has a strong genetic component along with other contributing factors.

The patient care that is occurring now also needs to constantly be evaluated. The astonishing number of AD patients in facilities and involved in home care need to receive the best treatment they can get. The caregiver techniques discussed can be controversial because they contradict what everyone learns about the importance of honesty. If the AD patient were you, how would you want to be treated? Would you rather be confused and frustrated or live in an altered reality? The most important part of this collection of information is the amount of lives that AD touches every year. If we can continue to work towards a cure and practice preventative behavior, then maybe future generations will see a world without AD.

 

References

Alzheimer’s Association (2017). 2017 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/facts/

Alzheimer’s Disease International. (2015). World Alzheimer report 2015: The global impact of dementia. Retrieved from: http://www.alz.co.uk/research/WorldAlzheimerReport2015.pdf

Barnard, N. D., Bush, A. I., Ceccarelli, A., Cooper, J., de Jager, C. A., Erickson, K. I., Fraser, G., Kesler, S., Levin, S. M., Lucey, B., Morris, M. C., Squitti, R. (2014). Dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 35 Suppl 2. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.03.033

Carpentier, N., & Grenier, A. (2012). Successful linkage between formal and informal care systems: The mobilization of outside help by caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1330-1344. doi:10.1177/1049732312451870

Formulation of evidence-based messages to promote the use of physical activity to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease. BMC Public Health, 171-17. doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4090-5

Hu, N., Yu, J., Tan, L., Wang, Y., Sun, L., & Tan, L. (2013). Nutrition and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Biomed Research International, 2013524820. doi:10.1155/2013/524820

Isaacson, R. S. & Ochner, C. N. (2016). The Alzheimer’s prevention & treatment diet: Using nutrition to combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers, Inc.

Loprinzi, P. D. (2015). Need for Increased Promotion of Physical Activity Among Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease: A Brief Report. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 12(12), 1601-1604. doi:10.1123/jpah.2014-0554

Ginis, K. A. M., Heisz, J., Spence, J. C., Clark, I. B., Antflick, J., Ardern, C. I., … Rotondi, M. A. (2017). Formulation of evidence-based messages to promote the use of physical activity to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease. BMC Public Health, 17, 209. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4090-5

Morris, M. C. (2009). The role of nutrition in Alzheimer’s disease: Epidemiological evidence. European Journal of Neurology, 16 Suppl 11-7. doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331.2009.02735.x

National Institute on Aging (2017). About Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s Basics. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/alzheimers-basics

Ogawa, S. (2014). Nutritional management of older adults with cognitive decline and dementia. Geriatrics & Gerontology International, 14 Suppl 217-22. doi:10.1111/ggi.12252

Phillips, C., Baktir, M. A., Das, D., Lin, B., & Salehi, A. (2015). The Link Between Physical Activity and Cognitive Dysfunction in Alzheimer Disease. Physical Therapy, 95(7), 1046-1060. doi:10.2522/ptj.20140212

Spencer, E. A. (2017). The Use of Deception in Interpersonal Communication with Alzheimer’s Disease Patients. Midwest Quarterly, 58(2), 176-194.

Tortosa-Martínez, J., & Clow, A. (2012). Does physical activity reduce risk for Alzheimer’s disease through interaction with the stress neuroendocrine system?. Stress: The International Journal On The Biology Of Stress, 15(3), 243-261. doi:10.3109/10253890.2011.629323

Venturini, L., Perna, S., Sardi, F., Faliva, M., Cavagna, P., Bernardinelli, L., & Rondanelli, M. (2014). Alzheimer’s Disease: From Genes to Nutrition. European Journal Of Inflammation (BIOLIFE, S.A.S.), 12(3), 405-414. doi:10.1177/1721727X1401200301

Exceeding Expectations

The main portion of my applied project definitely surpassed my expectations. Everyone had a great time, enjoyed the healthy snacks, engaged in the games, and learned something new! I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with the children and staff from the Pemi Youth Center.

I woke up that day excited for what was in store. I brought all the supplies that we were going to use down to the ALLWell North Center. I had previously spoken with the building manager and the woman in charge of the Nutrition classroom in order to secure the two rooms that were going to use. When the children were out of school my roommate, a Physical Education student, and I walked down to the Pemi Youth Center and met up with the children and staff. We walked to ALLWell North together and gathered in one of the classrooms.

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I had everyone play a short introduction game so that we were all more comfortable working together. As everyone entered the Nutrition classroom I assigned them a number which established the snack that they would be making. The group split into two and I explained what we were making and the importance of the wholesome ingredients. At first the children complained when I said the snacks were going to be healthy but they quickly changed their minds once weigot started.

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Mixing ingredients for ‘oatmeal energy balls’

The children dove right into cooking with some guidance. It was so wonderful to see them having fun and working together. Once everything was prepared we put the tots in the oven and the energy balls in the fridge. Everyone moved back into the classroom where we played the Nutrition Jeopardy game I created. The groups that cooked together remained on their original teams. Everyone was so involved and did an excellent job answering the questions!

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Putting the ‘cauliflower tots’ in the oven

Before the game was over my roommate and I brought the snacks out to the children and staff. Everyone loved them and even asked for recipes to bring home. There was also some left over for the children that weren’t able to attend or that left early. It was great to see what knowledge they had about nutrition and oral health already but even more exciting to see what they learned.

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Cauliflower tots

The biggest challenge of this experience was also something I would change if I could do it all again. I wish that I had more than one day to work with the Pemi Youth Center. I also wish that I had shadowed more than one time. Everything was on a pretty tight schedule while working with the children. I also really enjoyed my day shadowing and feel that I could have benefited from a few more days of engaging with the dental hygienists and patients. I think that I could have made a greater impact if I had more time with both groups. I have learned that timing is a very important part of planning. When I am in charge of planning anything in the future I will ensure that I break down the time period into smaller increments. Overall, the project was a success in my eyes but there is always room for improvement.

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Nutrition Jeopardy board

This experience was a great way to incorporate a variety of the things that I have done here at PSU. I was able to use the experience I have had with teaching, knowledge I have gained about health, and my new experience shadowing a dental hygienist to do something that impacts the community. I hope to incorporate all that I have learned and continue to influence others to make healthy choices.

This project was a great example of how my undergraduate education is setting me up for success. I was recently hired to work at an oral surgeon’s office after I graduate. I am so excited! This experience will help me when I continue my education next September. Everything is moving in a very positive direction and I am so thankful that my degree in Interdisciplinary Studies has allowed me to embrace life the way I want to.

Tomorrow’s the Day!

I will be spending time with the Pemi Youth Center tomorrow for my applied project. We will be making the two recipes I have listed below:

BAKED CAULIFLOWER TOTS

·       12 cups of riced cauliflower

·       1 cup of diced onion

·       1 cup of grated parmesan cheese

·       1 cup of finely ground gluten free bread crumbs

·       4 large eggs

·       4 teaspoons of salt

·       1 teaspoon of pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a nonstick baking sheet liberally with cooking spray.

Measure out 12 packed cups of the cauliflower and add it to a large bowl. Stir in the diced onion, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper, mixing until thoroughly combined. (The mixture should be roughly the consistency of mashed potatoes.) Using your hands, scoop up 1- to 2-tablespoons of the mixture and mold it into a tater tot shape. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the shaping process with the remainder of the mixture, spacing the tots about 1 inch apart.

Bake the tots for about 20 minutes then flip them and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until crisped. Remove and serve with ketchup, hummus or your preferred dipping sauce.

 

BLUEBERRY MUFFIN NO-BAKE OATMEAL ENERGY BALLS

·       4 cups dry oats

·       1 cup almond butter

·       1 cup honey

·       1.5 cups dried blueberries

·       A few dashes of salt

·       1 teaspoon cinnamon

·       2 teaspoons vanilla, optional

In a medium bowl, add all of the ingredients and stir to combine well. The mixture should be a bit sticky. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Use a spoon to scoop about a tablespoon of the cookie ball mixture into your hand. Roll into a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture. This should make about 48 oatmeal energy balls.

Store the balls covered in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for much longer.

 

We will also be playing a Nutrition Jeopardy game that I have created! As shown below:

Poster

I am extremely excited and optimistic about the time we have together. I hope it is both fun and educational for the children. Time to put my knowledge and efforts to work!

Smiling Ear to Ear

Smile

CC BY: Luciane Lazzaris

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lurdz/

The first step of my project was very successful! As I began to develop the project, I decided to incorporate shadowing a Dental Hygienist. My experience and knowledge with health care so far has lead to me to an interest in oral health. I chose to shadow a Dental Hygienist at a local dental office and I was able to learn a lot. I will be shadowing again soon because it was such a great experience. I was able to observe about 10 different patients being treated in the time that was there. There were a few emergency appointments made that day so it was great that I was able to see how they addressed those situations. There were three different dental hygienists that I observed and I was also able to talk with the dentist herself quite a bit.

I was able to gain the most insight from one hygienist in particular. I discovered after talking with her for a while that we were from the same small town. After learning that, I found out that she attended the university that I plan on attending after graduation. Lastly, I learned that her husband is in the Army Reserves, which is a huge part of my near future. It was amazing to share so many connections and she was able to give me an amazing review of her career so far. She emphasized to me the importance of oral health and that physicians are finally starting to acknowledge its important connection with overall health.

For this reason, I would like to educate the children at the Pemi Youth center about the link between nutrition, oral health, and overall health. I think that sometimes oral health is overlooked when in reality it is extremely important. I think the project will be a fun mix of new knowledge and cooking experience for the children. It will be exciting to incorporate what I’ve learned, my new experiences shadowing, and my previous experience with education to create an impactful afternoon for all of us.

Where Did the Time Go?

Every one who ever told me that each year of your education goes by faster than the last was completely right. My time here at PSU has had its fair share of twists and turns, speed bumps and pot holes. It has also taken me on the best ride of my life. I love this place and as sad as I am to see this chapter come to an end I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds. Everything I have learned from building this interdisciplinary Health Science major is going to set me up for success in the upcoming years.

The first thing I am doing when I graduate it joining the Army Reserve. I have always had an interest in joining the military and there is no better time then now. I will be able to grow as a person, travel, and serve my country, all while continuing to pursue my goals in healthcare. I plan to continue working at my current job until I leave for basic training in August. From there I will go to AIT (Advanced Individual Training) where I will train in my designated health care job for the Army. If all of this goes as planned I will then continue schooling while serving in the Army Reserve.

Army Photo

CC BY: Leonel Yanez 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/leonelyanez/

I will apply next winter for the nursing program I have been pursuing at MCPHS. The program begins in September of 2018. I plan to apply to a few other accelerated postbaccalaureate programs so that I have options if I am not accepted to MCPHS, but that is my number one choice. I think that my Health Science degree and Army experience will help me tremendously when applying to these programs. I am so thankful for all that I have learned here but I know that I have quite a ways to go to reach the career of my dreams.

I hope that after I come home from AIT I will be able to land a job in the health care industry that will further my knowledge and abilities. I had my wisdom teeth removed this past Friday and the oral surgeon asked me to apply to work for her office. I think it would be a great opportunity to work there or somewhere similar and learn from a professional like her. Finding a quality job during the time period before I go back to school will be one of my biggest challenges. I am truly passionate about everything the future holds. This is a beautiful time in life to embrace who I am and where I am going.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Try, try again. There has been a change of plans in my planning. The focus of my applied project was to positively influence the physical activity and nutrition habits of members of the community. My original plan was to work with the senior population at the Plymouth Senior Center. The director loved the idea but explained to me that I would not be successful at finding members of their group to participate in the health program. I was disappointed but appreciated her honesty about the situation. I did not want to give up on my ultimate goal with the project.

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I decided to take a new avenue and try to work with children. My Health Science major incorporates previous work I have done with children so I think it will be a great fit. I spoke with the Pemi Youth Center and we are going to do a health program with the children there. I am very excited to help educate them about their health. We will address both physical activity and nutrition with the children. This will also be great for the volunteers that I am working with because many of them are pursuing careers in education. I can not wait to continue developing this project! Sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned but this certainly will be a great way to accomplish what I set out to do.