Our HABIT Team: Dr. Glenn Smith

Feb 25, 2020 | Miranda Morris, HABIT Program Coordinator | @mirandamorris | Comments (9)

Our HABIT Team:  Dr. Glenn Smith

This week we would like to introduce you to the "Father" of the HABIT Program, Dr. Glenn Smith.  He has retired from Mayo Clinic, but continues to work in perhaps the even more demanding job as Chair of the Psychology Program at the University of Florida.  Here's Miranda's interview with Dr. Smith:

Miranda Morris: How are you involved with the HABIT Program?

Dr. Glenn Smith:  As the most senior member of the team, my colleagues often defer to me as the leader or founder of the HABIT program.  In truth, this program has evolved because of the commitment of numerous bright and dedicated people, not the least of whom are Dr. Melanie Chandler, you Miranda Morris, and others at Mayo Florida and Dr. Dona Locke and all of her great team at Mayo Arizona.  Having left Mayo in Minnesota in order to become the Chair of the University of Florida’s Clinical Psychology program I now get to introduce a whole new generation of future neuropsychologists to this great program.

MM: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

GS:  That is too long ago to remember!  I do recall knowing what I didn’t want to be.  My father was a painting contractor and as a tween and teen I would work for him in the summers.  It was hot, messy, hard work that he did day-in for years.  He knew he could keep me motivated for college and graduate school by showing me that I didn’t want that work life.

MM: What is your favorite thing about the HABIT Program?

GS:  Every new session rekindles my admiration and inspiration by watching people facing Alzheimer’s and related conditions heroically. It is amazing to watch them accept the challenge to do everything they can to live their best lives in spite of those diagnoses.

MM: What’s your favorite way to de-stress?

GS:  Sometimes exercise, sometimes Sudoku, sometimes hanging out with my big dog, nightly spending time with the family.

MM: How did you get into studying memory?

GS: In high school I was asked to be peer counselor. That is when I knew I wanted to be psychologist.  In college I took a course on aging and that is when I decided to become a neuropsychologist working with older adults. On fellowship is when I began to form ideas about how to bring rehabilitation models to MCI.

MM: Some of the healthy habits that we talk about in the program include eating well, emotional self-care and getting quality sleep. With such a busy work life and a family, how do you make sure to practice the habits of wellness?

GS:  Candidly. it is an on-going effort to practice what we preach.  I am a good sleeper (and expert power nap taker) so that’s not an issue.  Fortunately, my spouse is great about eating right, without her I would not do so well in that category.

MM: What do you usually use the “Notes” section of your calendar for?

GS: I just now opened to my most recent entry and found I had written down a couple of ideas for new research projects.

MM: How long have you been a part of HABIT?

GS:  Since before it started.

MM: What is a typical day like for you ?

GS: These days I am an administrator, which means I spend 15% of my day signing bureaucratic documents, 20% of my day answering emails, 50% of my day in meetings and 15% of my day doing things that are interesting, useful and/or fun.

Smith Lab Night Out 2020Dr. Smith's graduate student lab on a night out at a recent conference (January 2020).

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) blog.

Thanks so much for introducing us to the gentleman who started the program. Congratulations Dr. Smith. You have truly given a huge gift to those of us who have been through the HABIT program. Thank you doesn't say enough!


How/ where do you register for the HABIT program?
I could not find it in my search.


Thanks so much for introducing us to the gentleman who started the program. Congratulations Dr. Smith. You have truly given a huge gift to those of us who have been through the HABIT program. Thank you doesn't say enough!

Jump to this post

Debbra, I am looking for more information on the HABIT program…


Hi @helenfrances – You could email Miranda Morris at morris.miranda@mayo.edu. Miranda is GREAT. I'm wishing you all the best in getting connected with HABIT. It's an outstanding program.


Many thanks.
Prayers please.. my husband is having surgery this morning.


Praying for your husband's surgery and his recovery to be successful. God loves His creation of which we are and comforts us during our suffering. I pray that the surgeons and nurses and technicians carry out their best skills and that your husband is strong and recovers quickly. May God bless you akso.


Is it possible to lay out where you are in your dementia joryney is accepted into the HABIT program? I was told I do not qualify because of the progression wsnt given any details.
I got a call from a nurse giving me the denial. That isn’t helpful to us that are trying to find and utilize all possible resources to help
As most medical professionals will agree – everyone is different and the way the disease affects folks is different.
I was not called or asked to determine my actual deficit as it related to the program and WHY it would not benefit me or my caregiver. They can look at a record and see keywords that would negate me from the program – BUT that isn’t always a good indication of my status to participate in the program.
Why dont you take this on a case by case basis and please (a MD) personally tell us why it would not benefit us?
Appreciate the reply.

**A dementia patient who was denied to be accepted into the program because my dementia is too advanced is writing this. I have this level of functionality and can still do many things. please help us to understand why a resource would be withheld without even talking to me or my caregiver.**

I am not the only one to have these questions.


@larryh123 Hi Larry, thank you for your question about the eligibility criteria for HABIT and the process that goes into this. While I cannot speak to your particular situation, I can say that once a referral (made by the patient, family, or healthcare provider) reaches our team, one of our program coordinators makes an initial review of the medical record to ensure eligibility, with a particular eye on whether a thorough diagnostic work-up was done to reach a diagnosis of MCI. You mentioned the term dementia. If the person with memory loss has already been determined to have dementia, that is an exclusion from the program. This is because HABIT is designed for those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), who have not yet progressed to dementia. This is based on research that those with MCI still have "procedural memory" (ability to make new habits) intact, while those with dementia do not. It is a fine balance between offering the program to as many people as possible, but making sure it will be a helpful (rather than frustrating) experience for those we accept. I am hoping this helps answer your question, but if not, I would encourage you to reach back out to the staff member you had spoken to or contact us at habitprogram@mayo.edu for more clarification and to ensure review of your records. We certainly want to be sure all who would benefit from HABIT have the opportunity to participate!

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