Leyden Academy welcomes pre-med students Union College

Today, for the fourth consecutive year, Leyden Academy welcomed twenty curious pre-medical students from Union College in New York. The students are currently touring the US, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands for an impression of how health care is structured in the various countries. In our country, the tour included visits to hospitals, a health centre, a centre specialising in physical and mental disabilities and even a presentation about the Dutch drug policy system.

At Leyden Academy, we discussed various topics related to vitality and ageing. Scientific staff member Lex van Delden asked the students about their associations with old age, and challenged the general image of older people as helpless and miserable. Research shows that despite frailty and impairments, older people in the Netherlands perceive their own health as quite well (report Shades of Grey), and rate their quality of life an 8 out of 10 (Leiden 85-plus study). Lex also introduced the Life and Vitality Assessment, a new tool developed by Leyden Academy to help measure the wellbeing of older individuals.

We also discussed how we can prevent or postpone so-called ‘diseases of old age’ and live longer, healthier lives by making small changes in our daily routines and environment – the subject of the MOOC Healthy Ageing in Six Steps. Finally, students Vanesha and Julian (see picture) got to experience what it feels like to be old, by wearing the ‘ageing suit’. Including shaky hands, unsteady feet and limited eyesight due to glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy – depending on the glasses you choose. A true eye-opener…