Recreation Therapy Faculty Member Receives Mather Institute Award

6/21 – On May 6, Recreation Therapy Assistant Professor Angie Sardina and her collaborators received the Innovative Research on Aging Silver Award from the Mather Institute for their manuscript entitled, Older Black Adults’ Satisfaction and Anxiety Levels After Completing Alternative Versus Traditional Cognitive Batteries.

Sardina-WEB.jpgThe Innovative Research on Aging Award recognizes excellent applied research that has important implications for the aging service industry and inspires future practices in the field. A monetary prize of $1,000 accompanies the award. Sardina says of the recognition, “This award is important as it signifies innovative advancements in practices, services and programs to continuously evolve and improve aging services.”

Sardina collaborated with researchers and graduate students across a variety of notable academic and research institutions including Pennsylvania State University, University of South Florida, Tulane University and the National Institute on Aging.

Their research study provided a unique way to evaluate cognitive functioning and health in community-dwelling older adults. It provided observable evidence of the promising efficacy of evaluating cognitive health across senior living and community settings.

“Given the increasing diversity of the older adult population, there is a public health need to provide accessible and socioculturally-appropriate, cognitive screening assessments,” Sardina said. “It is crucial that these assessments not only reliably detect early changes in cognitive status, but empower individuals to seek appropriate health services. Our study demonstrates that technological approaches to cognitive screening can be effective and inclusive for diverse older adults.”

Their manuscript addressed a gap in the literature as to whether older Black adults, who are at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, are receptive to completing computerized batteries that are used to measure the cognitive status of the individual.

During the study, Sardina worked as a graduate research study coordinator at the University of South Florida. She was mentored throughout the study by Dr. Alyssa Gamaldo, who provided excellent training on minority aging, socioculturally-appropriate assessment, data collection, management, analysis and manuscript development.

“I spent a significant amount of time with participants and had many wonderful and insightful conversations and garnered greater understanding of racial and socioeconomic disparities in health and social determinants of health along the way. My work on this project spurred my current research agenda, to which I am grateful for that opportunity. Overall, I believe this work is highly impactful with respect to adding to the body of knowledge in the field, as well as promoting greater awareness of the need for alternative cognitive assessments that align more closely to an individual’s needs and/or background and context. This award validates the importance of this topic in the senior living industry.”