DIMENSIONS Summer 2006


photo of Ray Houle

First, Iíd like to introduce myself. My name is Raymond Houle and I work with Drs. Linda Teri, Susan McCurry, and Rebecca Logsdon at the Northwest Research Group on Aging in the University of Washington School of Nursing. I am a research assistant on studies for people with Alzheimerís disease and dementia, and have been involved in developing and teaching exercise programs to sedentary older adults.

My job requires a lot of travel around the Puget Sound area, interviewing caregivers as well as persons with dementia who are dealing with different issues of memory loss. The studies involve gathering information about sleep patterns, depression, physical activity, cognitive problems, and medications for both groups involved with each study. Usually I conduct two to three interviews per day, each which takes from one to one and half hours. Once the appointment is completed, I go over the paperwork to make sure all of the questions have been answered. Another co-worker does a second review of the material to make sure there are no mistakes before the forms are submitted for computer input. All of the material is confidential and there are no names connected to the interviews.

I really enjoy my contact with the different people I interview. Everybody has such a rich past and in the course of my interviews I often learn not only about how the participants are doing now, but also about their histories. I have always enjoyed working with people and I find older adults especially interesting due to their life experiences.

I have worked at the University for eleven years on a variety of studies working as an interventionist developing and implementing exercise programs for older adults and people living with HIV/AIDS. I also worked on a national asthma study with children from low-income families, to teach parents the proper way to clean and keep the home environment safe for their children living with asthma.

Before working for UW I was a professional dancer performing on Broadway in New York City during the late 1980ís, and have choreographed, taught, and performed in London and San Francisco, as well as Seattle. I am a certified Pilates instructor, and when I am not at work at the University, I teach Pilates three days a week. Pilates is a form of exercise that can be adapted for people of all ages and with a variety of abilities. Since I stopped dancing professionally, I have been able to stay in relatively good shape through this exercise method. Other activities I enjoy are gardening, camping, and reading.

I am completing my BA this fall, with a double degree in Dance/Theatre and Psychology. I returned to school after an absence of thirty-five years. Being an older student has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience and I hope to continue on for my masterís degree after a year off to re-group and do some remodeling on my home. Finally, I also produce a Dance Festival called Against the Grain/Men in Dance. This yearís show will open in October, on Friday the 13th!

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