ACTIVE Cognitive Training Trial: 20 Year Follow-Up of Functioning, Health, & Dementia
For 10 weeks during my summer, I had the opportunity to join the Policy and Economics of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care (PEDAL) Lab, based at the Perelman School of Medicine. Here, my research broadly covered issues centered around aging and disability, including long-term care (LTC), end of life care (EOL), and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD).
Working on various projects within the Lab, I spent the majority of my time working on a literature review for a 20 year follow up of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) trial. This trial was the largest randomized clinical trial to examine whether cognitive training enhanced both cognitive abilities and everyday functioning in normal older adults. Findings suggested a positive effect of cognitive training on incidence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias, however, these results only focused on short-term outcomes
The goal of the 20 year follow up is to assess the long-term impact of the ACTIVE interventions on real-life outcomes and related costs. In order to do this, the current follow-up project is using data such as Medicare and Medicaid Claims, driving records, and credit reports.
This research experience provided me with the much-needed opportunity to improve my literature review skills. As a tutor in the writing center, I have spent plenty of time helping fellow students with their own literature reviews, however, I knew I needed to spend more time honing my own skills so I can still practice what I teach! Conducting these literature reviews allowed me to learn how to search for literature more efficiently, skim and read academic articles, quickly pull out key facts, and properly synthesize the articles I pulled to form cohesive arguments.
Through this experience, I know that I have not only become a better tutor, but my summer at the PEDAL lab has also helped me to confirm my goals of pursuing a career in healthcare policy. Learning about Medicare and Medicaid through a more focused lens allowed me to solidify what I had learned in my Healthcare Management classes from the previous semesters. I had once struggled to understand the funding mechanisms of the American healthcare system. However, working on this project helped me to not only finally understand the system, but also identify areas which I think must be improved with further research and policy change.