International Healthy Aging Course

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Gerontology at FranU announced its first study abroad experience in Porto, Portugal, during the week of May 25 - May 31 for nursing and physical therapy students where they will learn about healthy aging through the lens of a different culture.

Students will stay with a host family while attending classes with other Portuguese students at Escola Superior Saúde de Santa Maria (sister university to FranU). In addition to the classroom environment, they will visit local hospitals, nursing homes, and independent living residences to see how Portuguese healthcare teams support their aging populations.

Dr. Lindsay B. Mullins, chair of gerontology, said, “We have been working closely with the faculty at Escola Superior Saúde de Santa Maria to be able to offer this program to our students. It is our goal that FranU students will form a close bond with their host student in Porto and have a truly immersive cultural experience. For our first trip, we were hoping to keep the course size small and bring around 6-12 students. The course is interdisciplinary, so students from different health professions can learn from one another, creating a bridge for professional collaboration once in the working world.”

FranU students will also travel to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared in 1917. During the visit, they will explore the Catholic faith and how Portuguese elders rely on their faith in aging and suffering.

“Portugal has a robust aging population, with around 20 percent of the population being 65 years of age or older. It will be interesting for the students to see how a state-funded service can meet the needs of its aging population, as well as the role of the older adult in the family unit. We hope that our students can walk away from this course with a deeper perspective on healthy aging and how culture can influence an older adult’s experience,” stated Mullins.

The gerontology program at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University strives to provide the University community and Baton Rouge community with up-to-date information on healthy aging by preparing culturally informed servant leaders in gerontology.

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