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Science

The latest research projects conducted by CHAI team members

Exploring Non-Genetic Risk and Protective Factors to Cognitive Health: Implications for Productive Aging and Ecologies Theories

FUNDED BY NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, SILVER SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK, DEAN'S UPSTREAM AWARD ON PREVENTION

Cognitive impairment is a national and worldwide epidemic (National Institute on Aging, 2018). While genetic inheritance strongly influences cognitive impairment (National Institute on Aging, 2015), there are a number of non-genetic modifiable risk and protective factors that can bolster cognitive reserve and brain health (Merzenich, Nahum, & Van Vleet, 2013), which may delay the onset and severity of impairment including Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD). Work is an important social determinant of health. Yet, how occupational characteristics in mid-life influence cognition in later life is not fully known. This body of research is nascent with inconsistent conceptualization and operationalization of key concepts and mixed results. The objectives of this investigation are to conduct two scoping reviews of the literature. The first will examine how novelty and complexity of occupational characteristics are associated with cognition. The second scoping review will explore how key social determinants of health (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, education) moderate the relationship between occupational novelty/complexity and cognition. Both scoping reviews will critique and apply widely utilized prevention frameworks. These products will articulate a transdisciplinary research agenda for the fields of social work, psychology, public health and nursing.

PI: GONZALES, E.

FUNDING SOURCE: NYU UP-STREAM GRANT

Bolstering Economic Wellbeing and Health Among Graduate Students and Older Adults Through an Intergenerational Home Sharing Program

FUNDED BY THE AARP FOUNDATION, FAN FOX AND LESLIE R. SAMUELS FOUNDATION, INC., & NYU SILVER SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK 

Social isolation and economic insecurity undermine health. The Administration on Aging (2013) finds that 30% of adults aged 55 and older live alone and the rates jump to 50% for women aged 75 and older. Older women, people with disabilities, childless, family estranged, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults are particularly vulnerable to living alone, housing insecurity, and poverty (Administration on Aging, 2013). A lack of social contacts among older adults is estimated to cost society approximately $6.7 billion in additional federal spending annually (Flowers, Shaw & Farid, 2017). These risk factors undermine older adults’ preferences for aging-in community and aging-in-place.

 

Another major challenge is student debt. Student loan debt is currently at $1.48 trillion, affecting more than 44 million borrowers. The long-term effects are felt for many decades. Studies suggest that educational loan debt impacts student’s ability to purchase daily necessities as well as delay marriage and decisions to start a family, purchase a vehicle or home, or save for retirement.

 

NYU SSW will test an intergenerational solution to these problems. Through a matching process,

students and community dwelling older adults will participate in one of two intergenerational home share models: income and service exchange.

PI: GONZALES, E.

FUNDING SOURCE: NYU UP-STREAM GRANT

For more information, visit our website.

Systemic Racism as a Context Shaping Mental Health and Retirement

FUNDED BY U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION/ BOSTON COLLEGE’S SANDELL GRANT, PETER PAUL PROFESSORSHIP AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY, & NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON MINORITY HEALTH AND HEALTH DISPARITIES LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM

Racial and ethnic minorities suffer an undue burden of health disparities due to a wide range of social, economic, and environmental factors (Braveman & Barclay, 2009). The aims of this project are:

 

Aim 1. To identify and describe the correlates and prevalence of experiencing everyday discrimination, major life-time discrimination, chronic work discrimination, and living in (dis)advantaged neighborhoods.

 

Aim 2. To explore the accumulated effect of risk factors with health (self-report health, hypertension, anxiety, number of health conditions, depression, any cognitive problems, memory, purpose in life, life satisfaction).

 

Aim 3. To examine how discriminatory risk factors and health relate to retirement expectations (early retirement, full-retirement, delayed retirement) and labor force participation (age at which respondents retire).

PI: GONZALES, E.

FUNDING SOURCE: NYU UP-STREAM GRANT