Emory staff members publish article in The Gerontologist

Emory Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics staff members Sean Halpin, MA (research projects manager) and Rebecca Dillard, MA (assistant program director, Emory Center for Health and Aging) recently published an article in The Gerontologist entitled “Socio-Emotional Adaptation Theory: Charting the Emotional Process of Alzheimer’s Disease” on their studies of patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease (MCI/AD).

A patient’s emotional reactions to Alzheimer’s disease often present as cognitive and/or behavioral changes, particularly when cognitive decline affects one’s ability to articulate his or her disposition. The goal of this study was to understand the emotional reactions of individuals diagnosed with MCI/AD to help clinicians develop treatments suited to the current needs of their patients and provide informal support partners’ insight into MCI/AD.

The team concluded that the participants’ emotions did not present linearly along the course of the disease. Rather, their emotions were entwined with a set of complex positive and negative interactions, including relationships with informal support partners, formal support, coping, and perceived control.

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About Sean Halpin

Sean Halpin, MD

Sean Halpin

Sean Halpin completed his undergraduate studies at the University of North Texas and received his master’s degree from Columbia University. He has worked as a gerontologist researcher in a variety of settings, including the Yale University Program on Aging; Atlanta-VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center; and, most recently, at Emory University, within the Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics. At Emory University, Mr. Halpin works as manager of research projects for Dr. Molly Perkins on both her NIH-R01 funded study on trajectories of health in assisted living and her studies of social determinants of health in patients aging with HIV. In addition, Mr. Halpin has led studies related to his area of interest, non-pharmacological treatments for maintaining health into older age. His most recent publications appear in The Gerontologist, Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, Educational Gerontology, Patient Education and Counseling, American Acupuncturist, and the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

About Rebecca Dillard, MA

Rebecca Dillard, MA

Rebecca Dillard, MA

Rebecca Dillard completed her undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt University and received her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rebecca currently serves as assistant program director of the Emory Center for Health in Aging and assistant research program director of the Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics. Rebecca has long held an interest in health policy and health education, particularly as it pertains to optimizing older adults’ ability to self-manage chronic illness, increasing access to and utilization of psycho-social and community support resources, and improving quality of life for seniors and their families. Rebecca’s most recent projects focus primarily on creating meaningful educational opportunities for health-profession students in geriatrics-care principles, studying the social determinants of health, and increasing engagement of older adults with research and health-profession training programs at Emory funded by the PCORI Eugene Washington Engagement Award and the John A. Hartford Foundation.

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