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Human development faculty wins academic award for article on aging research

Human development faculty wins academic award

Silvia Sörensen, associate professor in human development at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education and Human Development, was selected as the 2022 recipient of The Carter & T. Franklin Williams M.D. Geriatrics Award by the Rochester Academy of Medicine (RAoM) for her article, “Perspectives on Aging-Related Preparation.” Sörensen coauthored the piece with Warner School doctoral students Rachel L. Missell ‘18W (MS), Alexander Eustice-Corwin and Dorine A. Otieno in 2021 in the Journal of Elder Policy.

The academic award is given to “the paper that best addresses a relevant topic in geriatrics that combines both medical and social issues.” It is awarded in honor of Carter and T. Franklin Williams, who were leading figures in geriatric medicine and care for older adults. Papers may include research findings or be a scholarly review of an important topic in geriatric medicine.

In the article, the coauthors address the topic of aging-related preparation, a process through which the elderly prepare for retirement and beyond. Currently, aging-related preparation is viewed as a personal responsibility, and the elderly do not receive much government support. They advocate for an integrated approach to aging-related preparation and argue for more resources to aid older adults in planning their futures.

Additionally, the coauthors address the need for an overhaul of pre-retirement planning programs to better coach adults, especially women, through aging-related preparation. Greater access to information benefits adults in or approaching retirement. Programs that provide information and problem-solving skills regarding all aspects of aging and aging-related preparation are most effective. Providing disenfranchised groups with the knowledge of and access to necessary resources can better prepare them to survive as they age. And, with better aging-related preparation, they explain, older adults will be able to manage symptoms of physical aging, while maintaining greater quality of life. 

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for this work, as it brings needed attention to policy changes that could assist older adults in healthy aging,” says Sörensen. “I am also excited for my students, Rachel, Alex and Dorine, to have the experience of collaborating with me on papers and seeing their potential impact on policy.”

Sörensen was presented with the award at the RAoM annual meeting and award ceremony in October. Motivated by an interest in adult development and aging, Sörensen focuses her work on the well-being of vulnerable older adults and their families.