A personal mission inspires Mary Dioise Ramos every day, and now she’ll have a chance to bring positive change to people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.
The assistant professor of nursing in Kennesaw State University’s Wellstar College of Health and Human Services was awarded a $149,974 grant from the Alzheimer’s Association as well as a separate grant from the Asian Resource Center for Minority Aging Research. Both grants will shed light on caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients in Filipino and Filipino-American communities.
“This is something personal for me because my grandmother has Alzheimer’s,” Ramos said. “Despite the abundance and importance of Filipino-American caregivers in the healthcare workforce, there is scarce research about them. As an immigrant who grew up in the Philippines, I embark on a journey as a nurse scientist to advocate for promoting health equity among Filipino-American communities. So, this is especially meaningful for me.”
The research will involve conducting surveys in Filipino and Filipino-American communities regarding quality of life of both persons with dementia and their care partners, and conduct focus groups discussing opportunities and challenges regarding managing health and healthcare. From there, Ramos said she hopes to develop and test effective strategies for caregivers, as well as provide support for them, so they can determine solutions while caring for relatives.
A nurse for almost 20 years, Ramos specializes in caring for the older adults. Through the work on this grant, she hopes to bridge the gap between nursing and people caring for older adult family members by giving them the tools to identify dementia-related illnesses and provide optimal care at home.
“Part of our role as nurses is to educate and empower family members to make decisions regarding care,” she said. “We consider family to be our care partners, so we want to prepare them for this role the best we can and ease both the financial and emotional burdens of caregiving.”
Ramos has taught at KSU since 2018 and has worked with the First-Year Scholars program through the Office of Research on this project. Last year, she had three students present their research on caregiving at the Symposium of Student Scholars, projects that helped produce the initial study on caregiving for older adults in underserved communities.
“Students get exposure to important aspects of health equity through this study, something they’ll deal with in their careers as nurses,” Ramos said. “The great thing about Kennesaw State is students are encouraged to pursue research with relevance.”