Insights into the Care of Older Adults

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Karen Roberto
Karen Roberto, an internationally recognized leader in the field of social gerontology, is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.

Karen Roberto, a University Distinguished Professor of Gerontology at Virginia Tech, was recently featured on Pulse of the Planet, a daily radio series and podcast that tracks the rhythms of nature, culture, and science.

“My research really focuses on how older adults manage in everyday lives,” Roberto said in the first of three segments. “I’m just very interested in particular about older adults who have health problems. And how do they navigate their world, whether that be their homes and their physical worlds and relationships with family and friends?” The three installments focused on interviewing older adults to learn about their resilience and challenges, issues of elder abuse, and the dark side of caregiving.

Roberto, director of the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment at Virginia Tech, is also a senior fellow at the university’s Center for Gerontology. Roberto conducts research to understand rural older women, family relationships, coping with chronic conditions, caregiving, and elder abuse.

“In caregiving situations, oftentimes the stress rises to such a level that their actions are such that are on the verge of being abusive,” said Roberto. “They may get frustrated, so they yell or they scream at the person or call them names. Elder abuse — it’s a hard topic.”