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CITRA offers free webinar series on optimal aging programs

Tags: aging,   CITRA,   gerontology,   webinar,  

logo for CITRA, the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on AgingThe Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA), is offering a series of webinars for people interested in running cutting-edge, evidence-based intervention programs in their own communities. CITRA designs, tests and disseminates programs to promote optimal aging, social integration in later life and improved quality of services to older adults. With funding from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, these programs are now easily available from a user-friendly website.

CITRA is a BCTR project focused on expanding and improving scientific knowledge benefiting older adults and translating those findings to community populations. It provides free access to evidence-based intervention programs developed over the past two decades with the goal of building communities of CITRA program users. CITRA also offers one-on-one consultation for those interested in running its programs.

The webinars feature three CITRA programs:

  • Building a Community Legacy Together (BCLT) is an intergenerational program in which youth interview elders about their wisdom and advice for living. The webinar took place on January 23 and a video-recording will be available shortly on the BCLT webpage.
  • Retirees in Service to the Environment (RISE) is an environmental education and leadership training program for older adults that promotes environmental volunteerism and stewardship. The webinar is scheduled for May 8.
  • Partners in Caregiving (PIC) and Partners in Caregiving in Assisted Living (PICAL) are cooperative communication programs for nursing home and assisted living staff and residents’ family members to improve staff-family relationships. The webinar is scheduled for June 5.

You can register for upcoming webinars by e-mailing You can also learn more about CITRA’s programs and download their training manuals and other program materials free of charge on the CITRA website.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    CITRA    gerontology    webinar   

Talks at Twelve: Sara Czaja, Wednesday, February 27, 2019

portrait of Sara Czaja

Social Isolation Among Older Adults: What Role Can Technology Play?
Sara Czaja, Weill Cornell Medicine

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
12:00-1:00 p.m.
225 ILR Conference Center

Social isolation and loneliness are prevalent among older adults, represent significant health risks, and have been linked to cognitive declines, lower quality of life, a heightened risk for physical and mental health problems, functional declines, and mortality. Technology applications such as email, social media sites and online support groups hold promise in terms of enhancing engagement and providing support to older people in various domains and contexts. This presentation will present findings from CREATE and other trials regarding the access to and use of these applications among older adults and the resultant impact on social connectivity, loneliness and social support.

Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D. is the director of the Center on Aging and Behavioral Research in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. She is also an emeritus professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (UMMSM). Prior to joining the faculty at Weill Cornell, she was the director of the Center on Aging at the UMMSM. Sara received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, specializing in Human Factors Engineering at the University of Buffalo in 1980. She is the director of the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE). Her research interests include: aging and cognition, aging and healthcare access and service delivery, family caregiving, aging and technology, training, and functional assessment. She has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health, Administration on Aging, and the National Science Foundation to support her research.

She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the Gerontological Society of American. She is also past president of Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging) of APA. She is a member of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences Board on Human Systems Integration. She served as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of Cognitive Aging and as a member of the IOM Committee on Family Caregiving for Older Adults. Dr. Czaja is also the recipient of the 2015 M. Powell Lawton Distinguished Contribution Award for Applied Gerontology, of GSA; the 2013 Social Impact Award for the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM); the Jack A. Kraft Award for Innovation from HFES and the APA Interdisciplinary Team, both with CREATE; and the Franklin V. Taylor Award from Division 21 of APA.

Co-sponsored by the Graduate Field of Human Development

Lunch will be provided.
This event is free and open to all. No registration is required, but groups of 10 or more, please inform Lori Biechele of your plans to attend so enough lunch can be ordered.

Parking is available on Garden Ave., in the Hoy Garage, or at various Parkmobile lots. Please stop at any information booth for assistance.

For further parking info, see:
Short-term parking options
Parkmobile map

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    BCTR Talks at Twelve    gerontology    health    mental health    social media    technology   

Research on later life pain and mood presented at meeting

Tags: aging,   conference,   Elaine Wethington,   pain,   TRIPLL,  

Researchers from across Cornell and investigators affiliated with the BCTR’s Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL) shared new research findings earlier this month at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual scientific meeting in Boston.

TRIPLL is one of the most active and long-standing collaborations among the Cornell campuses. It comprising researchers and graduate students from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech. The investigators presented research on barriers to older adults receiving mental health care at the end of life, why older adults seek information and make the decisions they do and an intergenerational program that teaches youth to interview older adults to learn life lessons.

portrait of Elaine Wethington

Elaine Wethington

“The Gerontological Society of America meeting is the leading international venue for presenting new findings on aging and health to our scientific peers” said Professor Elaine Wethington, one of the co-directors of TRIPLL and director the pilot study program. “It is an opportunity to showcase the work of our pilot investigators and to network with the world’s leading gerontologists. “

Much of the research presented by TRIPPL focused on the relationship between pain, mood and psychological distress and methods for managing chronic pain besides medications.

A TRIPLL-sponsored symposium looked specifically at developing and testing innovative pain interventions that do not involve taking medications. Researchers documented the psychological elements of pain and how cognitive-behavioral interventions can change patients’ perception of pain. They also found that coping skills training, step monitoring and goal-setting to encourage exercise were the intervention activities most likely to lead to pain relief among older adults.

One study, led by human development graduate student Abby Yip and associate professor Corinna Loeckenhoff, demonstrated how positive and negative emotions are associated with pain on a daily basis. TRIPPL researchers sent daily surveys to older adults with chronic pain to measure their mood and pain experiences. They found that patients who experienced positive feelings experienced less pain. They also found that experiencing negative emotions in the context of pain was associated with maladaptive coping strategies, such as avoiding physical activity, which may worsen pain in the long run.

TRIPPL pilot investigator Dr. Una Makris also reported on an intervention designed to improve outcomes of disability and depression in older veterans with chronic low-back pain and depression. The intervention will involve telephone calls from a health coach to encourage physical activity.

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 Translation of the Behavioral and Social Sciences of Aging across the nation; each one focuses on a different aspect related to the health and well-being of older Americans.

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

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    conference    Elaine Wethington    pain    TRIPLL   

Kendal Scholar sees future as medical practitioner and educator

portrait of Piragash Swargaloganathan

Piragash Swargaloganathan

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

The book Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gawande addresses the question of how medicine can help people not only live better lives, but die better deaths. The book inspired Piragash Swargaloganathan, a senior majoring in Human Biology, Health and Society (HBHS), to pursue a minor in gerontology and ultimately consider end-of-life issues as he pursues a career in medicine.

This year, Swargaloganathan will receive the Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship for students interested in pursuing careers 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.

After reading the book, Swargaloganathan began working towards a gerontology minor as part of his bachelor’s degree.

“I believe the conventional understanding of adult development and aging in the American popular culture is one of decay, and these beliefs persist even among the medical providers, which shapes their medical practice,” he said. “Being educated with the fundamentals of adult development and having acquired the tools to understand the continuing research in the field of gerontology will positively shape my conception of the process aging and older adults that will have a positive effect on my future patients.”

In addition to gerontology studies, Swargaloganathan is the president of Student Veterans of America - Cornell chapter and the outreach coordinator of the Cornell Undergraduate Veteran Association. In these roles, he has advocated for Cornell’s acceptance and support of non-traditional students and adult learners, such as veterans.

“What impressed the jurors about Piragash’s application was his strong commitment to support adult education and life-long learning, particularly his engagement for veterans, as well as his dual career aspirations as a practitioner and educator working with older adults,” said Corinna Loeckenhoff, the director of Cornell’s gerontology minor program.

Swargaloganathan has participated in undergraduate research in Professor Barbara Strupp’s Maternal Choline and Cognition Lab and Professor Gary Evans’ Children’s Economic Behavior Study for more than two years.

“Both of these experiences combined have given me an interdisciplinary experience of scientific research in social sciences and applied sciences that can be a gateway to understanding and conducting gerontology research,” he said.

This is the 18th year of the Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship. The donor, who built a career in the corporate world after graduating from Cornell in the 1940s, 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.”


Matthew Avila awarded Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship
Record number receive gerontology minor
Loeckenhoff reaps early-career award in gerontology

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

Doing Translational Research podcast: Maria Fitzpatrick, Sunday, August 25, 2019

portrait of Maria Fitzpatrick View Media

Doing Translational Research podcast: Maria Fitzpatrick

The Well Being of Children and Older Adults
March 6, 2018

Maria Fitzpatrick
Cornell University

The Well Being of Children and Older Adults
March 6, 2018

Maria Fitzpatrick
Cornell University

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    child abuse    children    doing translational research    podcast    policy    retirement   

Talks at Twelve: Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, Sunday, August 25, 2019

portrait of peter lloyd-sherlock View Media

Talks at Twelve: Peter Lloyd-Sherlock

Researching Unregulated Residential Care Homes in Argentina
October 11, 2017

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock
University of East Anglia, UK

Researching Unregulated Residential Care Homes in Argentina
October 11, 2017

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock
University of East Anglia, UK

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

Doing Translational Research podcast: Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, Sunday, August 25, 2019

portrait of peter lloyd-sherlock View Media

Doing Translational Research podcast: Peter Lloyd-Sherlock

Aging and Insecurity
August 16, 2017

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock
University of East Anglia, UK

Aging and Insecurity
August 16, 2017

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock
University of East Anglia, UK

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    doing translational research    health    healthcare    international    podcast    poverty   

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.


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.


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 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