December 18, 2012 Columns

Spotlight on Special Interest Group 15, Gerontology

by Pam Smith (Perspectives editor) and Ann Kulichik (associate coordinator)

1. When was Special Interest Group (SIG) 15 founded?

The group was founded in 1995.

2. How many affiliates?

As of August 2012, we had 1,504 affiliates.

3. Why should ASHA members affiliate with your SIG?

Ann: Most speech-language pathologists who work in geriatrics fly solo. They often have limited ability to interface with fellow SLPs who treat the elderly. Our SIG provides opportunities to interact in the online forum, webinars, and affiliates meetings, plus the content in Perspectives is written specifically to meet the needs of this highly specialized treatment area. Targeted information is very hard to find outside of this outlet. In addition to the clinical issues SLPs face in this area, there are many work-setting issues-employer demands versus ethics, as one example-for which SLPs are seeking guidance.

Pam: Gerontology encompasses a broad range of topics because older people experience problems in so many ways that might be amenable to SLPs' and audiologists' services. Gerontology includes normal aging, ageism, dysphagia, aphasia, dementia, motor speech disorders, hearing loss, and so on. So it's a good SIG for seeing how many different areas of our field can impact a single population.

4. How does your SIG affect the membership at large?

Ann: Because we are focused on an age group, instead of one specific disorder, we offer information on a variety of disorders. We assimilate and codify a great deal of information, so SLPs can have it at the ready.

Pam: We provide information and activities that increase awareness of the needs of older patients and provide support for professionals working with older patients. Clinicians who do per diem work in hospitals and nursing homes in particular can benefit from our SIG because they might not be as immersed in the population and may not be as aware of their daily needs.

5. What are two benefits of affiliating with your SIG that everyone should know about?

Ann: We put a great deal of energy into Perspectives, which affiliates often indicate as their most valued benefit. This is a way to keep up on CEUs for minimal cost, and of course, there are affiliate discounts to ASHA short courses, a members-only forum, and literature reviews.

Pam: Beyond the above, we offer short courses, web chats, and issues of Perspectives that cross many different content areas (because gerontology is so inter- and multidisciplinary).

6. Which of your recent Perspectives articles is a must-read for CSD professionals and why?

Ann: The most-downloaded article in recent years is Jocelyn Alexander's "Assessment and Treatment Approaches for the Patient With COPD." It is full of practical information from a clinician with a wealth of experience in this area.

Pam: I am biased, as editor, so of course I'd say all of them! I think our recent pieces on technology-telepractice and iPads, both in the September 2012 issue-demonstrate how technology crosses what might be perceived as age barriers. In addition, our pieces on end of life and ethics (July 2011; December 2010) provide support for clinicians in these difficult situations. Our audiology issue provided information about balance disorders and the impact of hearing loss on perceived cognitive abilities. All good stuff!


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