THROUGH DAILY VISITS, Derek Washington learned his mother, Dorothy Washington, was no longer cooking. He brought microwave meals for her dinner, but she didn’t eat them. When she had trouble accurately writing checks, he took over her finances. A medical evaluation confirmed her steep memory loss. Once COVID-19 surfaced, he moved from his home a few miles away to hers in St. Petersburg, Florida, to better assist her. When he registered the 84-year-old retired social worker for delivered meals, he learned researchers were seeking input on the needs of people living with dementia, like his mother.
This was his path to participating in a Brown University research project. In January, the 60-year-old African-American artist and full-time care partner became a stakeholder influencing research conducted by Kali Thomas Ph.D., associate professor of health services, policy and practice in the School of Public Health and health science specialist at the Providence VA Medical Center.