Addressing the Needs of Nicaraguan Older Adults Living on the Edge: A University-community Partnership in International Service-learning

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Gerontology & Geriatrics Education

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Nicaragua is a very low-income country entering a period of rapid aging with limited geriatric training for health care professionals. To help build capacity and to enhance student learning, a short-term international service-learning program was implemented in 2004 in partnership with the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation and Nicaraguan community stakeholders. Graduate and undergraduate students at Portland State University complete coursework for one term in the United States then travel to Nicaragua for about two weeks to participate in educational, research, and service activities, primarily in group homes for older Nicaraguans. Students learn about global aging, gerontology, community development, service learning, and Nicaraguan history and culture, then apply their gerontology-related knowledge by training direct care staff, older adults and their family members, and students. The authors describe the impetus for and evolution of the program, students’ evaluation of the program, faculty observations on program benefits and challenges, lessons learned, and future plans.



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