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Vowels using grant money to study how exercise affects elderly

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By Mary Barczak

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - It’s no secret with new medicine and technology people are living longer today. And one Mount Washington resident has made it her goal to make sure we are taken care of as we age.

Mckinze Vowels, a junior at Western Kentucky University, was recently awarded the Lifetime Experience Grant.

The 19-year-old is majoring in psychology and minoring in gerontology.

She utilized the grant money to continue research with her professor Jason Crandall on how an aging body responds to exercise.

Crandall’s exericse science class has been holding what they call Bingocise class for seniors at area centers and nursing homes for the last couple years. The class consists of a Bingo game along with some exercises between rounds.

“It’s fun for (the participants),” she said. “They think they are coming in to play Bingo but we also teach them something as well.”

But this year, they decided to add something more to the mix—education.

“Instead of having numbers or letters on the card,” Vowels said. “There are answers to health questions that we ask them on topics like how to eat healthy and manage their diabetes.”

Vowels said she chose the topics and wrote the questions for the games.

“The questions are mean to be conversation starters,” she said. Then they follow it up with another couple paragraphs about the topic.

Vowels said they were able to use the funds to help compensate participants, buy prizes and help with travel expenses.

The class recently completed the 16- week trial with the participants. Vowels said they will spend time doing focus groups and then review the data this summer.

“We’ll start looking at the effects and the changes we saw,” she said.

Vowels said she hopes they can market their model to other adult facilities one day.

“The topics are endless,” she said.

But before that happens, she wants to make sure it is “effective and efficient.”

Vowels realizes that her calling is a special one and she plans to continue her studies by going for a master’s in social work.

“Anything that I can do to improve the quality of life for older people is something that I would be willing to put a lot of time and energy in…” she said. “That’s the community that I really connected with… There’s a reason that we live this long and I’d like to think we should give it real purpose.”