What UC Medical Students Are Learning From Healthy Maple Knoll Seniors

Sep 26, 2017

Too often the first contact medical school students have with older adults is in the hospital, the emergency room and at nursing homes. Consequently they may lack an understanding of what makes healthy seniors tick. But in one of the longest lasting programs of its kind, "Tell Me Your Story," University of Cincinnati Medical School students interview retirement home residents to gain a better understanding of their healthcare.

Eighty-seven-year-old Marilyn Yungk and her 94-year-old husband, Ed, are healthy enough to live by themselves at Maple Knoll Village in Springdale. They enjoy talking to people and opened their home last week to three UC Medical students to be interviewed.

On Diet

Future doctor Hillary Purcell wanted to know more about what they eat. "Have you noticed any changes in your meals and in your cooking or even in your appetite since you've been living here at Maple Knoll?" Marilyn cooked steak the night before for Ed's birthday. She says, "I don't think so and if I don't feel well I can call up and order a meal to be delivered here and then the Manor House is right out our back door and they serve a nice lunch."

UC Medical student Parker Howard listens as the Yungks explain diet, communication with their doctors and whether they've ever refused to do something a doctor told them to do.
Credit Colleen Kelley / UC

On Refusing Doctor's Orders

Marilyn mentioned she does not want to get another colonoscopy. She also told a story about her neighbor. "Her doctor wanted her to have a chest X-ray and she didn't think it was necessary and he said, 'Well, I'll sleep a lot better tonight if you had it,' and that was kind of persuasive, I think, and he didn't say you must do it."

On Where They Get Healthcare Information

"I read a lot," says Marilyn. "The magazine we get is for over 50. It's full of good health and nutrition information. And I'm on the computer too. I do pay attention to things I hear and read. I do ask the doctor in our family (her son-in-law) what he thinks. Sometimes we don't agree but I at least like to hear what he has to say."

The Best Part About Living At A Retirement Village

The Yungks are from Wadsworth, Ohio and moved to Cincinnati more than a decade ago to be closer to family. They've lived at Maple Knoll for five years. Marilyn says her favorite thing is the other people who live at Maple Knoll. "They're very interesting and have had interesting lives and most of them share those things in one way or the other."

Nearly 200 medical students interviewed 65 couples and singles at Maple Knoll September 18 and 19. Geriatrician Dr. Susan Davis says often times the future doctors and interviewees stay in touch. "We've had reports of really great conversations, relationships that have been built of out those initial interviews. The older adults living here at Maple Knoll Village in Springdale are eager to talk to the students."

In fact, she says, Maple Knoll Village residents sometimes get their feelings hurt if they are not asked to participate year after year. Davis says UC has one of the longest running partnerships of its kind.