Scholar

Aging with Resilience, Joy and Friendship Amid Health Challenges

By: Cynthia FitzGerald  

As global aging and health challenges mount, this study brings hope and evidence of best practices affirmed by the U.S. Congress as a model learning community on a college campus for fostering resilience and neuroplasticity following a spectrum of adult onset diagnosis including: Stroke, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, Aphasia, Orthopedic/Neurological diagnosis. In its forty-fifth year, the Cabrillo College Stroke and Disability Learning Center is a uniquely successful active, engaging learning environment, which incorporates a spectrum of creative classes for adults in conjunction with a learning lab for allied health students. Participants become college students, rather than patients, in this affirming, engaging environment, as skills, friendships and learning help them to find new community amid major life changes. The additional benefit of ongoing inter-generational teaching between participants and students learning to become health care providers provides an additional layer of inspiration and affirmation as those involved constantly learn new skills and develop their capabilities to live more fully amid health and social changes.

Resilience, Neuroplasticity, Learning Community, Stroke, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, TBI, Health
Medical Perspectives on Aging, Health, Wellness
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session



Cynthia FitzGerald

Associate Dean, Allied Health, Cabrillo College


Dr. FitzGerald brings over 40 years of experience in counseling, higher education and leadership to her work as Associate Dean of Allied Health at Cabrillo College and Adjunct Faculty in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University. She is passionate about her work and focus on fostering resilience and engagement, particularly at the Stroke and Disability Learning Center, which is a unique, highly successful model for supporting healthy aging and recovery in a dynamic, interdisciplinary learning community on a college campus.