Jablonski achieves more milestones in field of aging, dementia

Associate Professor named Gerontological Society of America Fellow, will embark on new Department of Defense research project
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Associate Professor Rita Jablonski, PhD, CRNP, ANP-BC, FAAN, continues to receive honors and opportunities related to her internationally-renowned work in the fields of aging and dementia.

Jablonski will be inducted as a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) at the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans in November. She is also a co-investigator with Dr. David Geldmacher, endowed professor in UAB’s departments of Neurology and Neurobiology, on a three-year, $734,955 project for the Department of Defense entitled “Improving Family Quality of Life through Training to Reduce Care-Resistant Behaviors by People with Alzheimer Dementia and Traumatic Brain Injury” that will begin in October.

Jablonski, who has been a GSA member since 2001, is thrilled by the formal recognition of her efforts, which focus in particular on oral health with dementia and care-resistant behaviors, and her sustained contributions to the organization.

“This is special to me,” Jablonski said. “When you are inducted, it means your peers acknowledge that you’ve done something important for older adults. In my case, my colleagues are acknowledging that the work I have done in my rather unique niche has made a difference in the lives of older adults and will continue to do so.”

The project with Geldmacher, director of the UAB Memory Disorders Clinic, will seek to develop ways to improve caregiver burden, quality of life and related outcomes for patients with Alzheimer’s or traumatic brain injuries and their family members through the use of face-to-face coaching via the Internet.

“Most people with dementia live in home environments and traveling long distances with an agitated and resistant person to see a doctor or nurse puts a real burden on both the affected person and their family members,” Geldmacher said. “This study will help us understand if providing similar – but expanded – services in the family’s home will better meet the family’s needs and cut down on medication use, hospitalization and emergency room visits.”

The DoD request intrigued Jablonski and Geldmacher because it allowed them to build on years of clinical practice devoted to the subject by combining various aspects of their research and practical knowledge.

“When you look in the literature for people with traumatic brain injuries, you don’t see care-resistant behavior specifically stated, but you do see the phenomena,” Jablonski said. “It’s called irritability or aggression or apathy. I’m seeing similarities in behaviors that are just being called different names.

“I said to Dr. Geldmacher, ‘It would be really interesting if we could develop a way to deliver the coaching through a distance-accessible method. From there we could see if what I am doing with the family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s is transferable to the family caregivers of patients with traumatic brain injuries.’”

With Jablonski’s contributions, Geldmacher believes the collaboration will produce tangible results.

“Dr. Jablonski’s innovative research on reducing care-resistant behaviors in people with dementia has already allowed us to expand our clinical services to families facing dementia,” Geldmacher said. “The methods she has discovered through her research and now implements in the clinical setting complement our existing approaches and provide real value in addressing unmet needs.”
Read 12108 times Last modified on January 13, 2020

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