Center on Aging Faculty Honored at United HomeCare Annual Dinner

Faculty and staff members with the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine’s renowned Center on Aging have been honored for their work in aging research and improving the quality of life for older adults.

Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D., director of the Center on Aging and Leonard M. Miller Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dolores M. Perdomo, Ph.D., director of the Caregiver Center at the Miami Memory Disorder Center in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Chin Chin Lee, M.S., M.S.P.H., senior project director at the Center on Aging, were presented with United HomeCare’s Education and Advocacy award at the 23rd Annual Dinner and Claude Pepper Awards.

The ceremony was held May 11 at Jungle Island and included several awards named for the longtime political leader that celebrate the achievements of exceptional individuals in the community.

“The late Senator Claude Pepper was a champion of the elderly and worked to protect older Americans, advocating on their behalf with determination and passion,” said Carlos L. Martinez, president and CEO of United HomeCare. “We are proud to honor a fine institution such as the University of Miami Center on Aging, and its leaders, who show an interest and passion going above and beyond for their service and dedication to those who turn to us for help.”

The awards are an annual tradition at United HomeCare, which, since 1974, has assisted elderly and disabled people who wish to live at home by providing them with services that enable them to do so. Part of their effort includes several community partnerships with UM’s Center on Aging, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for older adults and their families through research, education, and services to our community.

United HomeCare collaborates with the Center to implement Community Reach II (Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregivers Health), an evidence-based research program aimed at reducing caregiver distress and depression.

Funded by a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, United HomeCare is the first home health agency in the U.S. to partner on the project, which is coordinated locally by Czaja.

“It is always a great pleasure to collaborate with United HomeCare,” said Czaja, who is also the director of CREATE (Center on Research and Education for Aging and Technology Enhancement), a multidisciplinary program that focuses on making technology more accessible for older adult populations.

“They are an extremely professional and forward-thinking organization and care deeply about their clientele. The people at United HomeCare are dedicated to improving the lives of older adults, which is a goal shared by our Center on Aging.”

Claude Pepper served for more than 60 years in public service, as both a senator and U.S. Representative for Florida. One of the last major pieces of his legislative legacy was a 1986 law barring mandatory retirement based on age.

Perdomo, who is the clinical supervisor and trainer for caregiver intervention programs at the Center on Aging, said programs like CREATE and REACH II provide significant contributions to the merge between science and community practice.

“Receiving the Claude Pepper Award was truly an honor, not only because of the person and ideals this award represents but also because I have had the opportunity to be among incredible champions of aging issues,” said Perdomo, an assistant professor who gave the keynote address at the ceremony. “I have devoted my career to working with aging adults, and their families, and I can still say that I love it with the same passion as when I started more than 25 years ago.”

The award also honored Chin Chin Lee, who oversees and manages the day-to-day activities of the research projects at the Center, and was the project manager for Reach II.

“Being recognized by the community for the work that our Center is doing to promote research and education involving older adults is beyond what I had in mind when I first joined the Center,” said Lee. “This is a tremendous encouragement for me to continue with research in order to improve the overall quality of life of older adults.”

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