At Scripps Gerontology Center, the next generation of gerontologists continues to pave the way for change and passionately works to address the needs of marginalized aging communities.
Originally from Frankfurt, Illinois, second-year master's student Lucas Adams initially became interested in gerontology through his mother's work at a medical center for older adults. Originally majoring in psychology at Miami University, during his junior year he declared gerontology his primary focus of study. Throughout his undergraduate experience, Adams notes many of his classmates had interests in working with younger populations, but after reflecting on how little attention older adults received within his psychology coursework, his interest in working with this population grew.
As his senior year rolled around, Adams was motivated to pursue hands-on experience with older adults and found the opportunity to assist with the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) program, which provides engagement through art experiences for individuals living with dementia. His experience with OMA equipped Adams with specialized training and the ability to later work as an OMA graduate assistant, supporting students in creating art and conversing with older adults. Adams notes the importance of having a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere and the promotion of treating individuals with dementia with dignity and respect.
Adam working at an OMA Session at Knolls of Oxford
Apart from Adams’s work with OMA, his passion for working with marginalized communities was realized through his experience of working on research with Bob Applebaum and AARP, where he gained further insight into the racial disparities within nursing homes and their relationship to COVID-19 deaths. This past summer, Adams appreciated the opportunity to intern at Butler Behavioral Health with their Uplift program, which centers on supporting the mental health of older adults. During this internship, Adam’s saw firsthand the importance of social support for older adults - especially those living with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD - and he hopes that more older adults will take advantage of free services and programs such as Uplift. The experience also helped Adams to develop strong skills in project management, research, and public speaking, which he deems critical in addressing the needs of marginalized older adults throughout society.
Within the next generation of gerontologists, Adams sees himself as someone who will continue to raise awareness about the aging population and advocate for those who are underserved. Adams describes his cohort as hardworking, studious, diverse in their thinking, and committed to making a meaningful impact in the field.