Nutrition majors lend a hand at caregivers conference

Radford University junior nutrition and dietetics majors recently participated in the day-long Caring Connections Caregiver Conference and Resource Fair with the New River Valley Agency on Aging.

As part of their contribution to the conference, the 12 students created and handed out brochures with information concerning healthy snacks, physical activity, hydration, supplements, isolation eligibility and benefits of some USDA/Department of Health and Human Services meals programs, said Jyotsna Sharman, an assistant professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics program in the College of Education and Human Development.

Participating in the conference was part of a project for Sharman's Nutrition in the Life Cycle course. The class split into groups of three or four and created a brochure or poster focused on a group-selected topic.

The nutrition majors also provided calcium supplement samples and gave a nutrition quiz for a chance to win a gift card to a local coffee shop.

"The conference was a great experience in general, and I'm very thankful Dr. Sharman gave us the opportunity to go," said Stephanie Page of Roanoke. "Not only did I feel very comfortable talking to everyone about nutrition and giving out the resources we prepared, I also got a chance to network with other professionals that I'll be working with in my future career."

Page, an aspiring registered dietician, created a handout with information on various supplements "that someone should take if they can't get the right nutrients from their meals every day," she said.

While working the RU information table, Emily Shannon was visited by a woman who was "almost frantic" because she has recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. She was scared and she didn't know what foods she could eat, said Shannon of Winchester.

"I tried to apply things I learned in class to her situation and talked her through some possible options of what she could eat," Shannon said. "When she left the table she seemed calm, more informed about her situation and not so scared to eat. It made me feel good knowing I could help someone with their dietary battle." 

The conference, held at New River Valley Community College, included multiple presentations and discussions throughout the day as well as several exhibitor displays.

Karen Stobbe, a dementia care and dementia education specialist, served as the keynote speaker. She addressed numerous topics including the importance of being in the moment in the world of dementia, how dementia effects communication and "being human" while in the caregiver role. 

The conference was open to individuals in professional caregiver roles and family caregivers. 

"It really surprised me that there are so many organizations for seniors and elderly to be involved in and that really care about their health and well-being," said Megan Osborne of Luray. "It's always nice to know, as a care giver, that you're not the only one who cares and that there are people willing to help."


Junior nutrition and dietetics majors (from left) Megan Osborne, Jasmine Thomas, Megan Jones and Mackenzie Kirchmier recently participated in the Caring Connections Caregiver Conference and Resource Fair.

Apr 15, 2015