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Matthew Avila awarded Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship

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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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Welcome visiting scholar Peter Lloyd-Sherlock

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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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Joining forces to ease chronic pain

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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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Connecting retirees to conservation

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

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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.

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Spring 2017 Talks at Twelve

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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

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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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Doing Translational Research podcast: Corinna Loeckenhoff

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Aging is Not Dying
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Corinna Loeckenhoff
Department of Human Development, Cornell University

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Talks at Twelve: Matthew Kaplan, Wednesday, October 5, 2016

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event-kaplan

Intergenerational Spaces and Places
Matthew Kaplan, Intergenerational Programs & Aging, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, & Education, Penn State University

Wednesday, October 5, 2016
12:00 - 1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



What does it mean to create public places that are conducive to intergenerational engagement and coop¬eration? Places such as parks, playgrounds, shopping malls, community centers, and purpose-built age-integrated centers where the generations can readily meet, interact, build relationships, and, if desired, work together to address issues of common concern. In his talk, Kaplan will present examples of creative programs, planned environments (including images and objects found in these environments), and design strategies that are responsive to intergenerational engagement goals in diverse settings. Kaplan will frame these examples in the context of intergenerational contact zones -- a conceptual tool (for examining complex, multi-generational settings), and a design tool (for generating innovative ideas for developing intergenerational meeting spaces which may be converted into socially meaningful places).

Matthew Kaplan is Professor of Intergenerational Programs and Aging in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at Penn State, where he conducts research, develops curricular resources, and provides leadership in the development and evaluation of intergenerational programs. At the core of Kaplan’s  research and outreach initiatives is the Penn State Intergenerational Program, rooted in Penn State Extension, but inclusive of a broader base of scholars and practitioners working in diverse settings. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology from CUNY Graduate Center and is an affiliate faculty member of Penn State’s Center for Healthy Aging.

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Botanical Gardens lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except fo groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at pmt6@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

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Gerontological Society selects experts on aging as fellows

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By Tyler Alicea ‘16, MPS ‘17 for the College of Human Ecology tumblr

wethington loeckenhoff

Wethington and Loeckenhoff

For their work on aging, two College of Human Ecology faculty members have been named fellows for the Gerontological Society of America.

Corinna Loeckenhoff, associate professor of human development and associate professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC), and Elaine Wethington, professor of human development and of sociology and professor of gerontology in geriatrics at WCMC, were two of 94 professionals named on May 31 to the society, which is the largest of its kind seeking to understand aging in the United States.

As fellows, Loeckenhoff and Wethington are being recognized for their “outstanding and continuing work in gerontology,” specifically in the behavioral and social sciences section of the society.

Loeckenhoff, who directs the Laboratory for Healthy Aging and oversees Cornell’s gerontology minor, researches various topics related to health, personality, and emotions across the lifespan. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on the various aspects of adult development and healthy aging.

Wethington, director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Human Development and associate director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, focuses on stress and how outside factors can affect one’s physical and mental health.

The society will formally recognize Loeckenhoff, Wethington, and its other new fellows at its 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans this November.

Gerontological Society selects experts on aging as fellows - College of Human Ecology tumblr

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