Meet Melissa

Nursing is a career with a lot of opportunity. I’ve always tried to take advantage of that and have continued to explore new areas to learn and grow. My extensive experience and expertise in geriatric care across various care settings has given me valuable insights into the unique needs and challenges faced by older adults and their families. This platform allows me to share effective strategies with all of you to address them.

Making a Difference at the Bedside

I never dreamed of working with older adults in a skilled nursing home, but I landed my first job in one. As a new RN I didnt like everything I saw, but I fell in love with the residents and their families. I felt like nursing homes were the redheaded step child of the healthcare system and no one wanted to be in one. But the residents and staff stole my heart. It was like Friend Green Tomatoesevery day learning about who people were when they were young, the adversity they overcame in life, and how some residents still had a smile on their faceand some didnt. I loved trying to find solutions to the many problems we had, but I knew I needed more education if I was really make a difference.

Making a Difference in my Community

As a FNP, I was able to expand my experience into assisted living facilities, home health, and primary care in an office practice. The variety of the people and places I encountered in a day challenged me and I loved finding solutions to some of the most complex (and basic) problems a resident and their family faced. This ranged from helping a resident get fried fish (when I wanted to discuss her advance directives), figuring out that a resident couldnt hear their phone because of highfrequency hearing loss so we just needed to lower the ring tone and she could hear it (may not sound like rocket science, but it sure improved the residents quality of life [and no one else had figured it out]), to supporting residents and families through the process of death and dying. But I felt like I could do more….

Changing Clinical Practice

I embarked on my PhD knowing 3 things: (1) staff needed additional training and support, (2) I loved caring for older adults with Alzheimers disease, and (3) I love to eat (as most of us do!). During this phase of my career, I have developed an intervention known as NOSH: Nurses Optimizing Supportive Handfeeding. By 2020, NOSH became the clinical practice guideline for managing mealtime in dementia; has been implemented by Texas Health and Human Services for all nursing homes in Texas; and the handfeeding techniques have been embedded in multiple other training programs around the country.

Health Policy

As a Health and Aging Policy Fellow, I had the opportunity to serve in the United States Senate on the Special Committee for Aging in the office of the chair at the time, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) in 2018. I helped develop legislation, speeches for Senator Collins, and hearings. My favorites were the annual Alzheimer’s Hill Day and their evening event. Actress Marcia Gay Harden testified that day but the real fun was meeting Billy Jean King. Nothing like trying to get a Senator’s attention that Billy Jean is “right there” and when they see each other, there’s an immediate flurry of reconnection. Billy Jean explained to me that Senator Collins supported her Presidential Medal of Freedom Award and even let me take a photo. I have few regrets in life, but WHY didn’t I get in this picture with them?!

Podcasting + Social Media

I completed my first podcasting project as a doctoral student for nursing students in 2010. Ten years later, I started a podcast called This is Getting Old: Moving Towards an Age-Friendly World with 5 YouTube Subscribers. Within the first two years, the podcast reached over 25K Subscribers and is ranked globally in the top 10% of over 3 million podcasts. During my doctoral and postdoc training, the John A. Hartford Foundation provided communications training that led to my professional use of social media. In 2022, with two colleagues, we wrote a book titled #SocialMedia in #HealthCare: A guide to creating your professional digital presence published by SLACK Incorporated.  It’s been quite a journey learning so many new skills (hey, lifelong learning is age-friendly!!)

The Future

I envision a future where age is celebrated and healthcare is accessible, compassionate, and of the highest quality. By sharing knowledge and empowering communities, we can improve the lives of all people as we move towards creating an AgeFriendly World. This will require collaboration and collective effort. I invite you to join me on this mission by exploring the resources on this website, engaging in discussions, and sharing your insights and experiences. Together, we can make a positive impact on the lives of older adults and their families!

work 1:1 with
MELISSA

Maybe you just don’t have the time, effort, or energy to do the research and try to find the answers on your own and you’d prefer to be able to ask someone in-person about your specific circumstances. That’s where I can help. Let’s meet 1:1 and find the answers you need now.