Department of Geriatrics

Larry W. Lawhorne, M.D., Chair

Research Activities

Dr. Larry Lawhorne and student image The overarching goal of the Department of Geriatrics is to train physicians who are skilled in the care of older adults in sufficient numbers to meet the future needs for our region. Because of the integration of geriatrics throughout the medical school curriculum and the residency training programs and our presentations at continuing education programs, the department anticipates that physicians, regardless of the medical specialty, will be able to continually improve care delivered to our older adults. However, in order to achieve this overarching goal, the department must be actively engaged in research, especially research that benefits older adults in the Miami Valley. Research conducted by the department involves four inter-related areas: aging in place, delirium, dementia and long term care.

Aging in Place

The department's current area of focus is collaborating with community-based agencies and organizations to study interventions and models of care that will allow older adults in the Miami Valley to remain safely in their homes for as long as possible. Along with faculty members in other departments in the School of Medicine, the College of Nursing and Health, the School of Professional Psychology, the Departments of Social Work and Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Assistive Technologies Research Center, the Department of Geriatrics is studying the feasibility of using wearable sensors and smart house technology to help older adults maintain their independence and enhance quality of life.

Diagnosis of Delirium in the Acute Care Setting

A research project on delirium sponsored by the Department of Geriatrics and funded by a Boonshoft School of Medicine seed grant was completed by medical student Nicole Zanin. The research was performed in collaboration with geriatric clinical nurse specialists at Miami Valley and Good Samaritan Hospitals and has provided the foundation for quality improvement activities that are ongoing in both hospitals. The work also provided a stepping stone for Ms. Zanin to win a prestigious national award to study delirium and dementia with Dr. Sharon Inouye at Harvard University during the summer of 2009.

Dementia Care

Dr. Gordana Gataric and members of the Wright State University Gerontology Interdisciplinary Team are studying the grieving process in people with dementia, especially responses to spousal loss. In addition, work with the Miami Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association may lead to an evaluation of local services for people with early stage dementia and a study of interventions to improve recognition, assessment and management of early stage disease by primary care physicians.

Long Term Care

Dr. Larry Lawhorne has been involved in research in long term care for more than 20 years. Current work involves improving management of urinary incontinence, prevention of venous thromboembolism and clarifying issues related to dehydration in the long term care setting.