Karlee Patrick, 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.
Patrick is working toward a minor in gerontology and plans to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist working to improve the mental health of older adults and their family members. For her honors thesis this year, she is collaborating with researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College to study a clinical intervention designed to better help detect and manage pain in dementia patients, especially those who are no longer able to verbally communicate.
“My part of this research involves in-depth interviews with family caregivers and health care providers to explore the strategies caregivers use and challenges they face in recognizing dementia patients’ pain,” Patrick explained.
In addition, Patrick is volunteering on her own time to attend workshops for caregivers of dementia patients run by Tompkins County Cooperative Extension. The workshops are designed to help caregivers understand dementia-related behaviors and communicate better with their loved ones.
“Attending these workshops will give me a greater understanding of current approaches to caregiver support in the local community and what strategies work with this population,” she said.
Patrick earned the award because of her strong focus on improving the lives of adults with dementia and their caregivers, said Corinna Loeckenhoff, the director of Cornell’s Gerontology Minor Program who runs the Healthy Aging Laboratory where Patrick works as a research assistant.
“The awards committee was particularly impressed by her strong focus on the well-being of older adults with memory decline – both in her research interests and her volunteer work,” she said.
Patrick has also participated in Cornell’s Alzheimer’s Help and Awareness Club, which is dedicated to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and learning more about the disease, possible treatments, and current research.
This is the 19th 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.”