Interdisciplinary teams consisting of a variety of health professionals working toward common patient goals have become an important innovation in clinical practice. In many parts of the world interdisciplinary teams have become part of practice, including in geriatrics. However, many gaps and the need for further empirical research and translation into practice remain. This is particularly true for the discipline of psychology, as much of the extant literature in engagement, training and practice in geriatric settings or educational settings does not include psychologists. Many advances in interprofessional teams, in acute settings in particular, do not include psychologists as part of the team. With respect to training, educating trainee health professionals, including psychologists, in interdisciplinary practice has still not become a standard part of training curricula internationally. Several excellent models of interprofessional and interdisciplinary training, including international models of interdisciplinary team competencies, have been developed. However, both the empirical testing of these models and their implementation in educational and practice settings is lacking. Within the geriatric healthcare context, the evidence base for both interprofessional care and the need for enhanced training models incorporating interprofessional skills is evolving, and further research on efficacy in evolving clinical contexts and translation into educational contexts worldwide is required. Ultimately, psychology must increase its presence within both interprofessional research and applied contexts.
Nancy A. Pachana and Gwen Yeo
Jack Kuhns and Dayna R. Touron
The study of aging and cognitive skill learning is concerned with age-related changes and differences in how we gather, store, and use information and abilities. As life expectancy continues to rise, resulting in greater numbers and proportions of older individuals in the population, understanding the development and retention of skills across the lifespan is increasingly important. Older adults’ task performance in cognitive skill learning is often equal to that of young adults, albeit not as efficient, where older adults often require more time to complete training. Investigations of age differences in fundamental cognitive processes of attention, memory, or executive functioning generally reveal declines in older adults. These are related to a slowing of cognitive processing. Slowing in cognitive processing results in longer time necessary to complete tasks which can interfere with the fidelity of older adults’ cognitive processes in time-limited scenarios. Despite this, older adults maintain comparable rates of learning with young adults, albeit with some reduced efficiency in more complex tasks. The effectiveness of older adults’ learning is also impacted by a lesser tendency to recognize and adopt efficient learning strategies, as well as less flexibility in strategy use relative to younger adults. In learning tasks that involve a transition from using a complex initial strategy to relying on memory retrieval, older adults show a volitional avoidance of memory that is related to lower memory confidence and an impoverished mental model of the task. Declines in learning are not entirely problematic from a functional perspective, however, as older adults can often rely upon their extensive knowledge to compensate for certain deficiencies, particularly in everyday tasks. Indeed, domains where older adults have maintained expertise are somewhat insulated from other age-related declines.