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Coordinated team action best addresses elder abuse

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news-pillemer2-inpostThe Cornell Chronicle reports on a recent publication, co-authored by BCTR director Karl Pillemer, outlining the likely traits of victims and perpetrators of elder abuse and the best approach to addressing the problem. The findings from the review of current research suggests that a team approach is most effective:

As many as one out of 10 people age 60 and older will experience some kind of abuse, most often in the form of financial exploitation, says a new Cornell study. Prevalence rates were previously thought to be 4 percent to 6 percent.

“It’s not that the rate of elder abuse has gone up. It’s that with improved research, we now know definitively that this is a very serious public health problem,” said Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development and a professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

“Elder Abuse,” appearing Nov. 11 in The New England Journal of Medicine, pulls together research from 46 studies from around the world. Pillemer is co-author with Mark Lachs, professor of medicine and co-chief of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

A profile of those likely to be abused also has emerged, the authors say. At greatest risk are women and elders with physical or cognitive impairments, low incomes or dementia. Those who live with others, such as a spouse or adult children, are also at higher risk; people who live alone are much less likely to be abused because there is simply less opportunity for abuse. On the other side of the coin, perpetrators tend to have mental illness and abuse substances.

“So you can get a picture of an older woman, who is beginning to experience an impairment, lives with a relative (who is likely to be the abuser) and otherwise is socially isolated, and may have some form of dementia. The perpetrator has their own problems. That is what elder abuse looks like,” Pillemer said.

The abuse can take many forms: physical, sexual, psychological or verbal mistreatment, as well as financial exploitation and neglect. The study found that in nursing homes, there are high rates of violence and aggression toward older adults. In particular, residents abusing other residents is more common than staff mistreating residents.

The findings also suggest that doctors play a crucial role in recognizing abuse and intervening, said Lachs. “A physician may be the only person who ever gets the chance to detect elder abuse, because these people can become so socially isolated with just the abuser that often no one else sees them,” he said. And given the prevalence of the problem, a doctor who is seeing 20 patients per day could see several potential victims of elder abuse per week, he added.

Simply removing the victim from their situation rarely works. Some older people, if they have no other choice, would prefer to rely on an abusive caregiver who is also providing care than have to move out of their home or into a nursing home, Pillemer said. “These cases are often unbelievably difficult to resolve. It’s hard for an agency to resist the temptation to move the person into the nursing home. Usually that’s not what the older person wants, and often it’s not the most appropriate place for them.”

Instead, doctors can be most helpful by spearheading a multidisciplinary team of nurses, social workers, hospitals, police, district attorneys and lawyers to help victims get the services they need. One of the paper’s strongest recommendations is for each city to create this type of team. “It’s a simple intervention, but it turns out to really work wonders,” Pillemer said. “The expression ‘It takes a village’ is true for the prevention of elder abuse.”


Experts recommend team approach to thwart elder abuse - Cornell Chronicle
Nursing home residents abusing one another and scammers ripping off the elderly, new study finds - Daily News

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New research initiative to promote positive youth development

(0) Comments  |   Tags: 4-H,   Andy Turner,   Anthony Burrow,   Elaine Wethington,   Jane Mendle,   Karl Pillemer,   Marie Cope,   PRYDE,   youth,   youth development,  

Anthony Burrow and Jane Mendle

Anthony Burrow and Jane Mendle

The BCTR is pleased to announce the launch of a new initiative called the Program for Research on Youth Development and Evaluation (PRYDE). Continuing the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner, the program will link science and service in innovative ways by involving 4-H communities in basic and applied research designed to understand and improve youth experiences.

PRYDE is led by BCTR faculty affiliates Anthony Burrow and Jane Mendle, both faculty members in the Department of Human Development. The program is supported by a BCTR-funded post-doctoral fellow, Jennifer Agans, as well as an advisory committee of 4-H and BCTR faculty and staff including Andy Turner, Karl Pillemer, Elaine Wethington, and Marie Cope. PRYDE’s initial projects include the development of an interactive mapping tool for Cornell faculty and staff to identify 4-H Youth Development programs with populations that meet their research needs, as well as and a new study to examine the role of purpose in youth engagement in 4-H programs.

These activities will lay the groundwork for PRYDE’s primary goal of creating a nationally prominent program for translational research on youth development to benefit the thousands of urban and rural 4-H participants in New York State and beyond. Stay tuned for resources and opportunities to get involved!

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Marriage is good for your health…especially if you’re a man

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homeslider-2015-pillemer-foxandfriends3It's well established by research that being married extends your life expectancy, improves your psychological well-being, and lowers your risk for heart disease and cancer. A new study from the Institute of Education at University College London confirms these positive outcomes for married people and finds that married men fare even better than married women.

BCTR director Karl Pillemer appeared on Fox & Friends to comment on these findings. In the interview he notes that, generally, unmarried women live healthier lives than unmarried men and that, in marriage, the healthier women influence the unhealthier men in a positive way. The study looked at data from 2002-2004 and included only heterosexual marriages.

Study finds marriage is good for your health - Fox & Friends (video)


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The BCTR (and Urie!) in Human Ecology Magazine

(0) Comments  |   Tags: Karl Pillemer,   magazine,   media mention,   The Legacy Project,   TRIPLL,   Urie Bronfenbrenner,  

news-chemagspr15-inpostThe spring issue of Human Ecology Magazine features the BCTR prominently - including a cover story on Urie Bronfenbrenner, for whom the center is named. Also inside are: a story on BCTR director Karl Pillemer's new book, 30 Lessons for Loving (p.28); briefs on the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life and the new Obesity Prevention Center in the Division of Nutritional Sciences with multiple BCTR ties (p. 10 and p. 11, respectively); a photo of John Eckenrode with Bronfenbrenner Lecturer Richard Lerner and one of Iscol Lecturer Maria Pacheco (p. 51).

As a child on walks with his father in the woods, they played a game, guessing why certain plants grew in certain places and not others - light, water, and soil determining which plants thrived where. These early hikes with his amateur botanist father were fundamental in forming Urie's perspective that human development must be viewed in a wider context of interacting influences to be understood. The HE Magazine cover article expands on Urie's forming his ecological systems theory of human development, his influence as a professor on today's top thinkers in the field, his passionate and open work ethic, and his strong conviction that research must engage with and affect policy and practice. BCTR director Karl Pillemer notes,

We have the good fortune of being named after an individual whose life and career epitomizes the work our center does. People working in agencies, health care settings, and social services help scientists set scholarly priorities, find the most interesting research questions, and help us get our research findings out to people who can actually use them. Urie modeled that.


Human Ecology Magazine - Spring 2015


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Pillemer in the NY Times on blooming in later life

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Karl Pillemer

A recent New York Times article dispels the myth that a person's best creative, professional, or even physical accomplishments are necessarily confined to the younger years. Many are finding success and satisfaction in their 60s and later, perhaps due to experience gained and an openness to try new things in the later stages of life.

BCTR director Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist whose Legacy Project gathers wisdom from elders, is quoted in the article:

We absolutely have to revamp this idea of a linear pattern of accomplishment that ends when you’re 50 or 60. There are simply too many examples of people who bloom late, and it’s the most extraordinary time of their life...There was this feeling of somehow ‘getting it right’ at 50 or 60 or older.


Finding success, well past the age of wunderkind - New York Times

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Priorities in addressing elder mistreatment

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"Elder mistreatment is recognized internationally as a prevalent and growing problem, meriting the attention of policymakers, practitioners, and the general public," begins the abstract of an article by lead author Karl Pillemer in a recent special issue of The Gerontologist focusing on the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. The 2015 conference will examine “elder financial exploitation, abuse and neglect” as one of four priority topics. Elder Mistreatment: Priorities for Consideration by the White House Conference on Aging (co-authored by Marie-Therese Connolly, Risa Breckman, Nathan Spreng, and Mark S. Lachs) reviews key issues in the field of elder mistreatment, emphasizes the public health importance of the problem, and proposes three major challenges to be addressed in order to create a comprehensive, coordinated response to elder mistreatment: research, direct services, and policy.

Full abstract:
Elder mistreatment is recognized internationally as a prevalent and growing problem, meriting the attention of policymakers, practitioners, and the general public. Studies have demonstrated that elder mistreatment is sufficiently widespread to be a major public health concern and that it leads to a range of negative physical, psychological, and financial outcomes. This article provides an overview of key issues related to the prevention and treatment of elder mistreatment, focusing on initiatives that can be addressed by the White House Conference on Aging. We review research on the extent of mistreatment and its consequences. We then propose 3 challenges in preventing and treating elder mistreatment that relate to improving research knowledge, creating a comprehensive service system, and developing effective policy. Under each challenge, examples are provided of promising initiatives that can be taken to eliminate mistreatment. To inform the recommendations, we employed recent data from the Elder Justice Roadmap Project, in which 750 stakeholders in the field of elder mistreatment were surveyed regarding research and policy priorities.

Elder mistreatment: Priorities for consideration by the White House Conference on Aging - The Gerontologist

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“30 Lessons for Loving” highlighted in the Miami Herald, includes BCTR family tie-in

(0) Comments  |   Tags: Cornell Legacy Project,   Jane Powers,   Karl Pillemer,   media mention,  

news-legacy-levines-inpostBob and Edith Levine, along with hundreds of other long-married couples, contributed their stories and advice to the recent book by BCTR director Karl Pillemer, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and MarriageThey recently told the story of how they met and married to the Miami Herald, in an article about the book. Here Edith recounts some of the difficulties of their early years together, and Bob's attitude towards the relatively small problems of domestic life:

 “It wasn’t all a bowl of roses. I remember when things were tough and I would say, ‘The kids had the measles, mumps and chicken pox, the roof was leaking, the basement was flooded, we couldn’t pay the bills,’” Edith said. “But Bob would say, ‘No one’s shooting at you, take a shower.’ That was his mantra.”

Bob, now 89, learned not to sweat the small stuff after being wounded in World War II. He took part in the Normandy invasion in 1944 as a member of the 90th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. He was injured during the invasion, strafed by shrapnel, leaving a broken leg and a crushed right foot.

Edith also notes that Bob's upbeat attitude has been a counterbalance to her worrying,

“That has been what made my life easier. I’m a worrier and he is so positive all the time,” Edith said. “I was very blessed.”

Jane Powers

Jane Powers

The full article contains more from the couple, including the moving story of how Bob's life was saved by a German doctor during WWII. In an additional connection to the BCTR, Bob and Edith Levine are the parents of ACT for Youth director Jane Powers.


Lifetime of loving - what long-married couples can teach us about relationships - Miami Herald

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The BCTR welcomes incoming director Karl Pillemer

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news-pillemer2-inpostThe BCTR is very pleased to welcome Karl Pillemer as center director beginning January 15. He additionally serves as Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College. Karl has close and long-standing ties to the BCTR, serving as PI or co-PI on several center projects, including the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL). He also oversaw multiple projects under the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center (BLCC), a precursor of the BCTR, as well as serving as BLCC interim director. Karl succeeds John Eckenrode, founding director of the center and professor of human development.

Karl Pillemer's research examines human development over the life course, with a special emphasis on family and social relationships in middle age and beyond. His specific areas of interest include inter-generational relations in later life; family caregiving for impaired elderly relatives; long-term care for the elderly; conflict and abuse in families of the aged; and aging and healthcare. He has years of experience with translational research methods, including developing the BCTR consensus conference model, which brings researchers and practitioners together to  identify research gaps and prioritize topics for new research. As co-PI of TRIPLL, he works closely with researchers at Weill Cornell and with community practitioners in New York City. The former College of Human Ecology Associate Dean for Outreach and Extension, he is well connected with Cornell Cooperative Extension and has close ties with community partners throughout New York State.

In a Cornell Chronicle article on the directorship transition, Dean Alan Mathios notes,

Karl is well positioned to lead the center thanks to his deep ties with community partners across the state and with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), the Cornell Office for Research and Evaluation and Weill Cornell Medical College, all of whom are vital partners in achieving the college’s translational research goals and in fulfilling Cornell’s land-grant mission. I am excited to see how the center will evolve under Karl’s direction, and I am grateful for John Eckenrode’s tremendous guidance of faculty, staff and students to deliver translational programs in its first three years.

0089_12_069.jpgJohn Eckenrode oversaw the creation of the BCTR (in 2011) through the merger of the Family Life Development Center (FLDC), where he previously served as director, and the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center (BLCC). During his tenure as BCTR director, John introduced the Talks at Twelve series, which draws an audience of both campus and community members, and the Innovative Pilot Study Program, awarding over $180,000 to eighteen teams of researchers in its first three years. He introduced a seminar on varying aspects of translational research through the Department of Human Development, the first of its kind at Cornell. Offered to undergraduate and graduate students in alternating semesters, the specific seminar topics vary, but all examine translational research in relation to policy and programs. In the new center, John continued the John Doris Memorial Lecture (introduced in 2008 in the FLDC) and the Iscol Family Program for Leadership in Public Service, which he has overseen since its inception in 2001 and will continue to administer in the future. John has been a champion of the work and legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner, ensuring that center-level programs are aligned with Bronfenbrenner's vision. In 2014 he organized, The Legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner, a panel discussion featuring leading College of Human Ecology faculty reflecting on Bronfenbrenner’s impact on current research and practice and on their own work. John will remain connected to the BCTR, contributing his significant experience to the center’s efforts, as well as continuing as director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, a center project.

In a video (see below) introducing Karl as BCTR director, he notes,

It’s an extraordinary opportunity right now to be stepping in as the director of the Bronfenbrenner Center because we’re at a critical juncture in American society. Precisely the problems that the Bronfenbrenner Center deals with are front and center now - child welfare, aging, problems of youth - and those are exactly the problems we deal with and have some good solutions for. [...] So I think that it really has a spectacular future right now and its building on a phenomenal base.



Karl Pillemer to lead Bronfenbrenner Center - Cornell Chronicle



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New book: “Thirty Lessons for Loving” by Karl Pillemer

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news-pillemer-lessonsloving-inpost30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage uses data and stories from the most detailed survey of long-married people ever conducted to show the way to lifelong, fulfilling relationships. Author and incoming BCTR director Karl Pillemer presents this sage advice from the oldest and wisest Americans on everything from finding a partner, to deciding to commit, to growing old together. The new book, out in January, follows the success of Pillemer’s 30 Lessons for Living, which offered life advice across various areas (work, family, money,etc.). Pillemer is also Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College.

In an article in Cornell Alumni Magazine, Pillemer explains why advice from this group is so important and can be so helpful to younger generations,

They're looking back from the finish line; it's no longer a mystery how things are going to turn out. These are people who've been through just about everything that keeps young people awake at night, and they're still doing okay. They're living examples that a lot of what we worry about is actually resolvable—that with resilience, drive, and flexibility, you can still be happy, even though bad things sometimes happen to you.

The book is already garnering media attention, including an interview on CBS This Morning (video below). Pillemer will give a book talk on 30 Lessons for Loving on Wednesday, February 25th at 4:00pm in Room 160 Mann Library, Cornell campus.

The book trailer:


Pillemer on CBS This Morning:


Secrets to a successful marriage from 700 retirees - CBS This Morning
Heart to heart - Cornell Alumni Magazine
It's never to late for love, according to gerontology research - Cornell Chronicle
Inside Cornell: Karl Pillemer's "30 Lessons for Loving" - CornellCast
The love advice that shocked expert Karl Pillemer - Huffington Post
Romantic advice from highly experienced practitioners - Sarasota Herald Tribune
Hundreds of retirees share secrets to a happy marriage - USA Today
Forget 'gray divorce': Here's how to make love last - The Wall Street Journal

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TRIPLL’s National Institute on Aging funding renewed

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The BCTR's Translational Research Institute for Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL) has received a five-year, $1.95 million renewal grant from the National Institute on Aging. In this next phase, TRIPLL adds a focus on behavior change science, applying insights from psychology, sociology, economics, and communications to develop optimal pain management techniques. TRIPLL investigators also plan to explore how new communication tools, including social media and smartphones, can be harnessed to manage pain.

TRIPLL co-director Karl Pillemer notes,

In spite of how widespread chronic pain is among older adults, there are relatively few tested interventions to help people reduce their pain. Our new focus is exciting because we hope to translate findings into more effective interventions by deepening our understanding of human behavior and decision-making.

TRIPLL, based in New York City, is one of 12 national Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translational Research on Aging. TRIPLL unites social and psychological scientists at Cornell’s Ithaca campus, Weill Cornell Medical College researchers, and community-based health care partners.


Funding renewed for aging and pain research center - Cornell Chronicle

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