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Retirement can bring health risks

Tags: aging,   Maria Fitzpatrick,   research,  

Portrait of Maria Fitzpatrick

Maria Fitzpatrick,

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Most people think of their retirement as golden years when they will pursue hobbies and passions they did not have time for when working full-time. But a study by Maria Fitzpatrick, the BCTR’s Milman Fellow, finds that the post-work years may not be so idyllic.

Fitzpatrick published a working paper that examined the link between retirement and health. To do this, she and her coauthor, Timothy Moore, combined data on mortality from the National Center for Health Statistics, a longitudinal data set of all deaths in the U.S., and Social Security benefits records.

Since Social Security benefits are first available at age 62, many people retire when they reach that age.  Fitzpatrick wanted to find out if there were also sudden changes in health at that age.  She found an increase in mortality for men at age 62. The increased risk was smaller and not as clear for women.

Since both men and women are most likely to collect Social Security benefits at age 62, but only men are more likely to retire, the increase in mortality is likely not related to collecting new benefits, but retiring from work, Fitzpatrick said.

“Retirement is a time of people’s lives when there is a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “The results from our study suggest that people thinking about early retirement should pay close attention to their health as they transition to retirement.  They should be sure to take care of themselves, be careful in their activities, especially driving, and check in with a physician if anything goes awry.”

Fitzpatrick did find some limitations in the data. Specifically, there was no way to tell if the increases in mortality continued in the long-term as people got older and no way to measure mortality rates when people retired at ages other than 62.

Fitzpatrick is an associate professor in the Department of Policy and Management and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Related:

Fitzpatrick named BCTR Milman Fellow

Ep. 18: The Well Being of Children and Older Adults with Maria Fitzpatrick - Doing Translational Research podcast

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    Maria Fitzpatrick    research   

The science of successful aging


By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

What’s the secret to successful aging?  That’s the question two BCTR researchers took on at a panel discussion “The Science of Successful Aging” at the 2017 International Convention on Psychological Science, where thousands of researchers from more than 70 countries gathered to share research findings and techniques.

headshot of corinna loeckenhoff

Corinna Loeckenhoff

BCTR faculty affiliate Corinna Lockenhoff, associate professor of human development, chaired the panel. She began by discussing the idea of “successful aging,” which today often means thriving socially and intellectually in older adulthood.

“The concept may not generalize across cultures,” she said. “But one clear benefit of this new perspective on aging is that it encourages renewed focus on the processes that contribute to positive age-related outcomes.”

Lockenhoff said the panel sparked an interesting conversation because researchers approached the concept of successful aging from different vantage points.

“The presenters each highlighted a different approach to promote successful aging – from cardiovascular and strength training to cognitive and social engagement,” she said. “Ideally we should design interventions that integrate multiple aspects into one program.

“The audience in the symposium was composed of top researchers from around the world and it was fascinating to hear their ideas for realizing such programs within different cultural contexts,” she said.

Headshot of Karl Pillemer

Karl Pillemer

During the panel, BCTR director Karl Pillemer presented his work about aging adults' need to engage in meaningful activities.

Social isolation is a major problem later if life, Pillemer said. That’s because as older adults start to experience losses due to divorce, death, and geographical mobility, they also tend to transition out of full-time employment. This transition often results in older adults losing the sense of purpose that comes with full-time work.

Pillemer and BCTR colleagues have been evaluating an intervention program called Retirees in Service to the Environment, or RISE, to help aging adults regain their sense of purpose. RISE engages retirees in volunteer positions around environmental issues. RISE participants receive training about environmental topics and how to apply their skills in a volunteer capacity. Then, participants each build and implement an environmental stewardship project.

In studies of RISE, adults who participate reported an increased sense that they were contributing to the next generation and an improved sense of social integration.

“We really have no alternative other than to address these issues,” Pillemer said. “We can’t promote successful aging, based on what we know, without also engaging in the promotion of social integration.”

Other participants in the panel were Teresa Liu-Ambrose from Department of Physical Therapy at The University of British Columbia; Monica Fabiani in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Denise C. Park from The Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas.

At the same conference, Lockenhoff led a workshop called “Age Differences in Time Perception: Translating Findings from Lab to Life,” which provided an overview of age-related shifts in different aspects of time perception and offered examples of how such concepts can be studied along the translational continuum.

Related:

Connecting Retirees to Conservation

Climate Change and Vulnerable Populations

"Aging is not Dying" - podcast episode with Corinna Loeckenhoff

Loeckenhoff reaps early-career award in gerontology

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    conference    Corinna Loeckenhoff    gerontology    Karl Pillemer    RISE   

Talks at Twelve: Heather Derry and Elizabeth Luth, Wednesday, May 2, 2018

 
portraits of Heather Derry and Elizabeth Luth

Two talks by Behavioral Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine postdocs
Heather Derry and Elizabeth Luth, Behavioral Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine Weill Cornell Medical College

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
12:00-1:15 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



Stress and Cognition in Clinical Discussions:  Exploring the Impact on Prognostic Understanding for Advanced Cancer Patients
Heather Derry, PhD, T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, Behavioral Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

For patients with advanced cancer, clinical discussions about prognosis can be stressful.  In addition, patients’ prognostic understanding is often limited, which presents challenges for informed decision-making.  Laboratory-based research provides insight into the ways that stress influences our physical, emotional, and cognitive responses.  Heather will discuss how these responses may interface with clinical discussions in the context of advanced cancer, and future studies to assess the impact of stress and emotion on patients’ understanding of their illness.

Understanding Race Disparities in End-of-Life Care for Patients Living with Dementia
Elizabeth Luth, PhD, T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, Behavioral Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

Research documents racial and ethnic disparities in end-of-life (EOL) care, where patients from racial and ethnic minority groups receive more aggressive, burdensome care, and have less access to quality-of-life promoting care at EOL. However, disparities in EOL care are not well understood for the growing population of patients with dementia. Elizabeth will share results from two recent studies of race, dementia, advance care planning, and assessments of EOL care quality and how those findings link to her current research on racial and ethnic differences in terminal hospital care and unfavorable hospice outcomes for patients with dementia.

portrait of Heather DerryHeather Derry is a T32 postdoctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine.  She completed her PhD in psychology at the Ohio State University, where her dissertation work evaluated how physical fitness impacts cognitive function among post-surgery breast cancer survivors.  She also completed a clinical health psychology internship at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA, with training emphases in geropsychology, primary care mental health integration, and women's addictions treatment.  Heather’s graduate-level research focused on the behavioral and physiological connections between stress, lifestyle factors, and health.  Her current work aims to assess mental health symptoms in seriously ill medical patients during and following hospital discharge, with the goal of enhancing post-discharge mental and physical health.

portrait of Elizabeth LuthElizabeth Luth is a T32 postdoctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. She completed her PhD in sociology at Rutgers University.  Elizabeth's graduate research focused on social and demographic disparities in assessments of end-of-life care quality for deceased older adults. At Weill Cornell, she is extending this work by investigating racial and ethnic disparities in quality of care for patients with advanced dementia near the end of life.


Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Botanic Gardens lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Lori Biechele at lb274@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

(1) Comment.  |   Tags: aging    BCTR Talks at Twelve    gerontology    health    healthcare    mental health    race    Weill Cornell   

Matthew Avila awarded Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship


Portrait Matthew Avila

Matthew Avila

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Matthew Avila, a senior in the Department of Human Development, will receive this year’s Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship for students interested in pursuing a career in gerontology. The scholarship was established by an anonymous Cornell alumnus living at Kendal of Ithaca, a continuing care retirement community located a mile from the Cornell campus.

Avila is working towards a gerontology minor as part of his bachelor’s degree, and plans to pursue a career researching the relationship between aging and disease.

“I want to explore the idea that growing old and disease are two separate constructs,” Avila said. “In other words, I will use the knowledge I gained from gerontology to fight against the stigma of aging, reduce age-related bias in my research, make accurate conclusions about the aging population, and produce good science.”

Corinna Loeckenhoff, the director of Cornell’s Gerontology Minor Program as well as Avila’s honors thesis advisor, commented, “What impressed the jurors about Matthew’s application is his continuous engagement with gerontology across multiple areas ranging from formal classwork to research and volunteering.”

At Cornell, Avila is involved with the Alzheimer’s Help and Awareness Club, a team of students dedicated to raising public awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and supporting Alzheimer’s patients.

And last summer, he was a research assistant at Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, where he worked on a brain-imaging study to examine how older adults who suffer from depression regulate their emotions.

“This experience provided me with the opportunity to learn how to do research in older populations as it relates to mental health and emotion regulation, and develop my skill set for research design,” he said.

This is the 17th year of the Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship. The donor, who built a career in the corporate world after graduating from Cornell in the 1940’s, first learned about gerontology work at  Cornell by participating in a study about the transition to living in a retirement community.

The donor’s goal was to build a lasting link between Kendal at Ithaca and Cornell so that “more students have a chance to learn about the colorful, interesting lives and careers of retirees, and more residents have an opportunity to better understand students of today – their hopes, thoughts, and dreams.”

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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    award    Corinna Loeckenhoff    gerontology    gerontology minor    Kendal Scholarship   

Welcome visiting scholar Peter Lloyd-Sherlock


Peter Lloyd-Sherlock

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock

The BCTR welcomes visiting scholar Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, a professor of social policy and international development at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. Lloyd-Sherlock’s research focuses on the health and well-being of older adults in low- and middle-income countries.

“As the Bronfenbrenner Center continues to extend its international reach, we are excited to have Peter join us,” said Karl Pillemer, director of the BCTR. “He is a noted expert on old-age policy in developing countries, with extensive experience working in Africa and Latin America. We will also benefit from his expertise in aging, which is a growing emphasis of the center.”

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock currently has active research projects in Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, and South Africa. At the BCTR, he hopes to apply some of the insights from center research on U.S. nursing homes to poorer countries, where nursing homes are becoming increasingly widespread and regulation is very weak, he said.

“Contrary to popular belief, more older people live in the developing world than in the rich north,” he said. “Despite this, the condition of older people and the wider effects of population aging are still seen as peripheral concerns in development policy.”

Recently, he led a study to develop new ways to audit residential care quality in La Plata, Argentina. The country has 6,000 care homes for older people. Media reports often reveal poor quality care, in some cases amounting to abuses of residents’ human rights. Most care homes in Argentina are unregulated, which makes it difficult to collect data about the quality of care.

Lloyd-Sherlock serves as an advisor for a several of international agencies, including the World Health Organization, United Nations Women, and HelpAge International.

Lloyd-Sherlock is delivering a BCTR Talk at Twelve titled Researching Unregulated Residential Care Homes in Argentina at noon on Wednesday, October 11 in the 2nd floor conference room at Beebe Hall.

And you can learn more about his work in this episode of our Doing Translational Research podcast: Ep. 15: Aging and Insecurity

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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    doing translational research    gerontology    Karl Pillemer    podcast    visiting scholar   

Joining forces to ease chronic pain


triplllogo-smallerBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Pain relievers are some of the most commonly-used medicines among older adults. But a Cornell-based organization called the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life, or TRIPLL, is exploring alternative ways to alleviate pain in older adults.

TRIPLL is one of the most active and long-standing collaborations among the Cornell campuses — comprising researchers and graduate students at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Researcher (BCTR), Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cornell Tech, plus dozens of community organizations serving seniors in New York City.

“It’s a very broad and deep collaboration,” said Karl Pillemer, TRIPLL co-director and director of the BCTR. “Because of our use of video conferencing, Skype and frequent meetings, it’s honestly not much different than if we were all in the same building. A number of us work with our TRIPLL colleagues even more than with people on our own campuses.”

TRIPLL was founded in 2009 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging. It is one of 12 federally-funded Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translational Research on Aging across the nation; each one focuses on a different aspect related to the health and well-being of older Americans.

TRIPLL brings together faculty from a variety of disciplines, including clinical medicine, epidemiology, gerontology, the social and behavioral sciences, computer science to focus non-pharmacologic methods of pain relief.

“Pain is a huge problem — it’s one of the things that keeps people homebound,” says Riverdale Senior Services director Julia Schwartz-Leeper, who regularly uses the institute’s webinars to train her staff. “The work that TRIPLL does is critically important.”

Karl Pillemer and Elaine Wethington

Karl Pillemer and Elaine Wethington

As the American population ages, the issue of treating pain in older adults is only getting more pressing. TRIPLL co-director Dr. Elaine Wethington, a medical sociologist and an associate director at the BCTR, notes that one-third of older adults has chronic pain — “and the majority of those find inadequate relief.”

Effective, evidence-based alternatives to pharmaceuticals are needed because many older adults have pre-existing conditions, such as heart failure or kidney problems, that pain medicines can exacerbate. The epidemic of opioid abuse also complicates matters. Fear of addiction may discourage older people from taking pain drugs. And reducing the number of opioid prescriptions keeps the drugs out of a medicine cabinet where they could be misused by family members or others, Pillemer said.

“Our inability to deal with chronic pain through non-drug methods is a huge problem,” he said. “In terms of an issue that makes the largest number of people miserable, chronic pain is at the top. But it’s not a high-profile problem that has an easy cure, so it doesn’t attract as much research funding.”

In an effort to combat the problem, TRIPLL’s researchers award grants for pilot studies; hold monthly seminars linking researchers on the various campuses; mentor graduate students, post-docs, fellows and junior faculty; and serve as a resource to New York City community service agencies, whose tens of thousands of clients provide a deep bench of volunteers for research studies.

“For years there’s been a consensus among researchers that pain is not just a biological phenomenon, it’s also a social and a psychological one, but there are few centers in the United States that look at pain from this biopsychosocial perspective,” Wethington said. “Our commitment is to understand these aspects as completely as we can — to get really smart people working on them, to publish papers in places where they’ll have an effect on practice.”

This story is adapted from an article that was first published in Weill Cornell Medicine, Vol. 16, No. 1.

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(1) Comment.  |   Tags: aging    Elaine Wethington    gerontology    Karl Pillemer    pain    TRIPLL   

Connecting retirees to conservation


retirees and solar panels

Retirees learn about sustainable energy during recent field trip to a solar-powered residence.

A new partnership between the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging and The Nature Conservancy is responding to two critical trends in society todaymounting concern about environmental sustainability and an aging population.

The Conservation Retirees in Service to the Environment program, an environmental education and leadership training program for adults over 60, is a new collaboration between the two organizations that builds on the original Retirees in Service to the Environment program (RISE), seeking to create environmental leaders who will play an active role as conservancy volunteers and environmental stewards in their communities.

“This program addresses the critical intersection of two important issues – environmental sustainability and an aging population,” said Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor of Human Development, professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

“Retirees are an underutilized resource who have the time, talent and skills to help address issues like climate change, air and water pollution, waste management and the protection of natural areas.”

Bill Toomey, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Forest Health program, said, “The Nature Conservancy is excited to be partnering with Cornell to creatively engage older adults in the conservation actions that they can take individually or as part of a community in the care and stewardship of trees and natural habitats in their own backyards, neighborhoods and community.”

Program organizers conducted an extensive review of the research literature, focus group studies with older adult retirees and a pilot evaluation study. Based on the best available research evidence and practices in the field, including research conducted on aging and environmental issues at Cornell, the project provides 30 hours of training over a six-week period, culminating in a capstone volunteer project.

The training consists of a full-day introductory workshop, four weekly environmental workshops and a capstone stewardship project in the community and provides knowledge from expert speakers on climate change, water quality, soil contaminants, waste management and energy use.

“Through training in leadership and communication skill development, our objective is to improve participants’ effectiveness as environmental volunteers,” Pillemer said. “The educational component of the program also includes hands-on learning experience, such as field trips.”

The conservancy is interested in engaging community members of all ages in the care and stewardship of trees through the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities program. “We are also looking to support individual and community action through our Habitat Network program to create and maintain local habitats including pollinator, rain and food gardens that can help support wildlife populations and connect people to nature,” Toomey said.

According to Pillemer, the program provides more than environmental improvements to local communities, it also benefits the volunteers themselves.

“It provides potential physical and mental health benefits to participating older adults, including physical activity, exposure to nature and social opportunities, as well as a greater sense of purpose through the chance to improve the world for future generations.”

The Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging promotes translational research on aging, including the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative, evidence-based intervention programs. A focus of the institute, housed in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, is to promote the social integration of older people in the form of meaningful roles and relationships.

New partnership connects retirees to conservation - Cornell Chronicle

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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    CITRA    collaboration    environment    Karl Pillemer    media mention    RISE    volunteering   

Talks at Twelve: T.V. Sekher, Thursday, May 25, 2017

 
t.v. sekher

Designing and Implementing the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI)
T.V. Sekher, International Institute for Population Sciences

Thursday, May 25, 2017
12:00-1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



Data are lacking on the health, social support, and economic security of India’s growing elderly population, and concern is mounting about the well-being of this expanding group. By assembling a research team of demographers, economists, medical doctors, sociologists, and public health and policy experts, the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI) aims to supply the data needed to understand the situation of India’s elderly population. LASI covers a nationally representative sample of 60,000 households to be followed longitudinally. In his talk, Professor Sekher will share how this data will provide a much-needed foundation for scientific research and policy making related to aging in India. LASI is a collaborative venture of the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the University of Southern California.

Dr. T.V. Sekher is a Professor in the Department of Population Policies and Programs at the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. He is the Co-Principal Investigator of the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI) and is also core team member of "Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE-India)". He is  currently the Fulbright-Nehru Senior Fellow with SAP, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. Trained in Demography and Sociology, his areas of research interests are social demography, gender issues, population ageing, and public health.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    BCTR Talks at Twelve    international   

Spring 2017 Talks at Twelve


This semester we welcome speakers from across campus and across the U.S. for our spring 2017 Talks at Twelve series. Talks at Twelve are held in the Beebe Hall second floor conference room and lunch is served. These talks are free and open to all. No RSVP or registration is required, but notice is appreciated if a larger group is planning to attend (email pmt6@cornell.edu).

Wednesday, February 22, 12:00-1:00pm
Mental and Behavioral Health Facilities: Critical Research and Design Recommendations
Mardelle M. Shepley, Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University

comfortTuesday, March 7, 12:00-1:00pm
Beyond the Peer-Reviewed Article: Making Research Relevant for Community Stakeholders and Policymakers
Megan Comfort, Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice Research Division, Research Triangle Institute

Thursday, March 16, 12:00-1:00pm
Pain and Presence: The Clinical Use of Media
Andrea Stevenson Won, Communication, Cornell University

Thursday, April 13, 12:00-1:00pm
Healthy Base Initiative: Evaluating Programs to Encourage Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyles, and Tobacco-Free Living
Marney Thomas, BCTR, Cornell University

Thursday, April 20, 12:00-1:00pm
Data Driven Policy-Making in Child Welfare
Dana Weiner, Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of Chicago

Tuesday, April 25, 12:00-1:00pm
Weill Cornell Behavioral Geriatrics: Cognitive Impairment in Hospitalized Adults & Palliative & Mental Health Care
Elissa Kozlov and Keiko Kurita, Weill Cornell Medical College

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Climate change and vulnerable populations


filibertoThe elderly are one of the most vulnerable populations during a natural disaster. They are more likely to be disabled, have fewer resources, and struggle more during harsh weather. The extreme weather brought on by climate change impacts elderly populations to a greater degree.

David Filiberto, who studies aging and the environment in the BCTR, was quoted in a recent article on vulnerable populations and climate change:

David Filiberto, PhD, a research associate at Cornell University’s Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, whose work focuses on how climate change affects vulnerable populations, said the aging population has doubled globally since 1980 and is projected to reach 2 billion by 2050.

“As you age, prevalence for disability increases,” Filiberto told The Nation’s Health. “Heat-related, cold-related and other weather-related deaths have the potential to show a substantial increase for people age 75 and older as the frequency of these events increases.”

David Filiberto is involved in research focused on aging and the environment, currently implementing and disseminating the Retirees in Service to the Environment (RISE) program in the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging in the BCTR. He is an evaluator and social scientist with expertise in research methods, particularly the design and administration of survey instruments. David’s research focuses on sustainability and the effects a changing climate has on vulnerable populations.

Vulnerable populations at risk from effects of climate change: Public health working to find solutions - The Nation's Health

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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    CITRA    climate change    David Filiberto    media mention   
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