Past Pilot Projects

2022-2023 Projects 

Picture of Cindy Vang

Discrimination and Resilience on Health Across the Lifespan: A Mixed-Methods Study of Asian and Asian American Older Adults

Cindy Vang, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, California State University, Chico

This project will investigate discrimination, resilience, mental health, and cognitive health across the life course for Asian and Asian American (AAA) older adults using an exploratory sequential mixed methods approach. We will (1) characterize the levels of discrimination, resilience, cognitive health, and mental health of AAA older adults across the life course and (2) provide the context of overcoming discrimination experienced by AAA older adults across the life course.

LCC Theme: Life-Course Dynamics as Disparity Mechanisms

Picture of Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

Infectious Disease Exposures in Early Childhood Among Contemporary Old-Age White and African American Cohorts

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Minnesota

It is well established that early-life infectious disease exposures can be harmful to long-term health. These exposures changed dramatically in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century—and thus, during the critical childhood periods of the cohorts that recently reached, are now reaching, or will soon reach the ages when most deaths happen. Yet we have little systematic information about what this childhood infectious disease exposure burden actually looked like across and within birth cohorts, including its variation by race and place. This project will create a new dataset that will generate a far more comprehensive description of these infectious environments than has ever been previously available and will set up future research into the consequences of those environments for aging trajectories.

LCC Theme: Later-Life Course Population Trends in Context

Picture of Frank Heiland

Perceived Workplace Ageism and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Cognitive Functioning among Older Workers

Frank Heiland, Associate Professor, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research

This pilot project will explore the role of perceived workplace ageism in racial/ethnic disparities in cognitive functioning among older workers approaching retirement age. We will examine the differences in cognitive performance between older workers who identify as non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Black, Indigenous, and (other) people of color (BIPOC) and Hispanic. Our first goal is to assess the significance, magnitude, and direction of the relationship between perceived workplace ageism and cognitive functioning among older workers. The second and related goal is to investigate whether perceived workplace ageism moderates the relationship between paid work and cognitive health in later life, for example, by increasing the risk of early withdrawal from the labor force or unemployment among older workers.

LCC Theme: Interrelationships of Work, Family, Community Participation, and Health

Picture of Theresa Andrasfay

Disparities in Inflammation at Older Ages: Exploring the Role of Occupation

Theresa Andrasfay, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology

The objective of this project is to determine which occupational characteristics impact inflammation at midlife and how these are implicated in socioeconomic inequality in midlife inflammation. Because inflammation is a risk factor for many health outcomes—e.g., disability, pain, chronic conditions—and is important for the overall aging process, the results will help clarify the role of work as a social determinant of health and quality of life at older ages and identify potentially modifiable occupational risk factors.

LCC Theme: Interrelationships of Work, Family, Community Participation, and Health

Picture of Renada Goldberg

Work Precarity and the Aging Workforce: Trends in Health Disparity Among Older Service Sector Workers

Renada Goldberg, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Simmons University

The main objective of this study is to measure the mechanisms by which work precarity contributes to disability and negative health outcomes for older non-college-educated workers in the service sector, measuring racial-ethnic differences in the experience of work precarity.

We have three aims: (1) Establish levels of work precarity based on a variety of measures, including wages, hours, work/family conflicts, period of unemployment, or access to health insurance, among older non-college workers (age 50+) in health care, retail, and food service; 

(2)  Measure the degree to which the level of work precarity predicts disability and negative health outcomes over time among older non-college workers (age 50+) in health care, retail, and food service; and (3) Measure whether there are differences in levels of work precarity and disability across racial-ethnic groups of older non-college workers (age 50+) in healthcare, retail, and food service.

LCC Theme: Life-Course Dynamics as Disparity Mechanisms

2021-2022 Projects

Picture of Janette Dill

Measuring the supply and turnover of direct care workers in long-term services and supports (LTSS) in the care of adults with AD/ADRD

Janette Dill, Associate Professor, Health Policy and Management

The long-term goals of this project are to assess the supply of the LTSS direct care workforce needed to support the growing demand for AD/ADRD care and to measure the extent to which compensation and resource-related constraints contribute to high turnover and instability in the LTSS direct care workforce. This pilot study will conduct preliminary analyses toward these goals, leading to a rigorous study that will use robust, nationally-representative datasets to measure the supply of the LTSS direct care workforce relative to the AD/ADRD population in local labor markets, identifying areas with relative shortages of this critical workforce. This will be the first study to provide crucial national and regional rates of employer and industry turnover among LTSS direct care workers, including turnover rates across LTSS sectors.

LCC Themes: Later Life-Course Population Trends in Context and Life-Course Dynamics as Disparity Mechanisms


Picture of Wei Duan-Porter

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Risk for Cognitive Decline and Dementia among Veterans with PTSD

Wei Duan-Porter, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine

Our long-term goal is to address the negative effects of PTSD on cognitive functioning over the life-course, focusing on racial and ethnic minorities. We will meet this objective by building on our prior work with a national cohort of racially and ethnically diverse veterans in VA care who had PTSD and no diagnosis of dementia in 2009 (n=7645). The proposed pilot work will identify surviving respondents and evaluate potentially higher mortality among minority (vs. White) participants. We will update VA data on medical conditions, health care utilization, and participants’ addresses. To examine community-level markers of socioeconomic disadvantage, we will link publicly available Census data on several key measures (e.g., proportion unemployed and proportion of households below the poverty line) using participants’ home zip codes. We will also evaluate the feasibility of recruiting minority participants for cognitive assessments by telephone (using the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status [TICS-M] and telephone-modified Mini-Mental Status Exam [T-3MS]). 

LCC Theme: Life-Course Dynamics as Disparity Mechanisms


Picture of Hannah Neprash

Primary Care Exam Length and Potentially Inappropriate Prescribing among Older Adults

Hannah Neprash, Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management

This project will use a database of national electronic health record (EHR) data from athenahealth, Inc., a large health information technology company, to test for a relationship between exam length and PIP. This database contains detailed information on more than 40 million primary care visits for adults aged 65 and older, including exam length and medications ordered by the clinician during each visit. To quantify exam length, we will use methods developed and deployed by study team members. To define and quantify PIP, we will rely on the 2019 American Geriatric Society Beers Criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults. This proposed work will contribute much-needed evidence on possible age-related disparities in time use in the form of interaction times between older Americans and their physicians and how that relates to the quality of care that older adults receive. Time use studies typically focus on paid work or family relationships, not community relationships, and yet time spent in medical care is arguably key to healthy aging. We will also promote understanding about how race and gender in combination with being over 65 shape exam times and their health impacts.

LCC Theme: Interrelationships of Work, Family, Community Participation, and Health


Picture of Colleen Peterson

Comparing the Utility of Subjective and Objective Measures of Older Adult Health and Physical Functioning to Predict Long-Term Driving Difficulty and Driving Cessation

Colleen Peterson, Postdoctoral Associate, Families and Long-Term Care Projects Team, University of Minnesota

The proposed exploratory study will identify the simplest and most predictive measures of driving difficulty and driving cessation by identifying relationships between several self-reported subjective and objective physical health measures and long-term incidence of driving difficulty and driving cessation. Limited research has evaluated both objective and subjective mental and physical health indicators to predict only older adult driving cessation over shorter follow-up periods. The more long-range prediction capacity a tool for driving cessation has, the more potential it has for reducing negative older adult health outcomes by linking them earlier to interventions that might delay driving cessation (e.g., rehabilitation to reduce physical difficulties) or support its successful transition (e.g., community-based transportation resources). The proposed study will identify simple, long-range predictors of both driving difficulty and driving cessation to inform evidence-based clinical practice and research.

LCC Theme: Later Life-Course Population Level Trends in Context


Picture of Tom VanHeuvelen
Picture of Jan VanHeuvelen

Intergenerational Health Socialization in Rural America

Tom VanHeuvelen, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Jane VanHeuvelen, Assistant Professor, Sociology

The goal of the proposed study is to investigate health socialization occurring within families that impacts health knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors throughout the life course. We focus on health socialization between retirement aged residents between 65 and 90 of rural areas and their adult children. We seek to identify key factors in the socialization process that influence adoption of health promoting behaviors among retirement-aged rural residents. Because health socialization is necessarily relational, we propose a data collection process that will capture the interconnected nature of health behavior and health socialization.

LCC Themes: Life-Course Dynamics as Disparity Mechanisms and Later-Life Course Population Trends in Context

2020 - 2021 Projects

Photo of Carrie Henning-Smith    Photo of Julia Drew

Rural-Urban Differences in 5-Year Mortality among Older Adults in the United States: The Role of Socio-Demographic and Health Characteristics, Living Arrangements, and Spousal Mortality

Carrie Henning-Smith, Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management, and Julia Drew, Research Scientist, IPUMS

This project will investigate rural-urban differences in five-year mortality among older adults and variation in mortality risk by individual socio-demographic and health characteristics, living arrangements, and spousal mortality. This demographic research will produce new knowledge about the large number of older adults living in rural areas and deepen our understanding of mortality risks in urban versus rural areas.


Photo of Lynn Blewett

The Budgetary Impact of Assisted Living Availability on State Medicaid Spending on LTSS

Lynn Blewett, Professor of Health Policy and Management

This project will document and evaluate Medicaid financing of assisted living services in Minnesota. We have three aims: (1) conduct a preliminary scan of state Medicaid financial support for care in Assisted Facilities; (2) operationalize an assisted living support variable to include in our Minnesota LTSS Projection Model; and (3) provide baseline data on Medicaid coverage of home care services in assisted living facilities. We will develop an initial financial projection model that assesses the impact of the availability of Assisted Living facilities on use and costs of Medicaid spending on LTSS. The model will include both supply information on number and type of Assisted Living, Nursing Facilities, and waivered services as well as demand based on current projections of Minnesota’s aging population and need for LTSS currently available in Minnesota’s LTSS Projection Model. 


Photo of Evan Roberts    Photo of Anna Prizment

Do Grandparents Moderate the Association Between Early Life Conditions and Health at Older Ages?

Evan Roberts, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and Anna Prizment, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation

Grandparents can be a crucial source of material and social assistance to families and make a significant difference to early-life environments. Because early-life social environments and experiences have an important impact on the life course and aging trajectories, the availability and role of grandparents potentially shapes the aging pattern of subsequent generations. We will expand understanding of how grandparents influence the aging and mortality of their grandchildren by creating a dataset of women observed in childhood in the 1920s, for whom we can objectively measure the presence, proximity, and socio-economic status of grandparents and track health and mortality in recent years. Using these data, we will examine whether the proximity and resources of grandparents during childhood moderates the association between early-life social and economic conditions, and health outcomes at older ages.


Photo of Sarah Flood    Photo of Jesse Berman    Photo of Kathryn Grace    Photo of David Van Riper

The Impacts of Extreme Weather on Older Adults’ Time Use

Sarah Flood, Research Scientist, IPUMS; Jesse Berman, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Science; Kathryn Grace, Associate Professor of Geography; and David Van Riper, Director of Spatial Analysis, ISRDI.

This project seeks to understand how older adults’ daily lives are affected by extreme weather and to explore demographic variation in the impact of such events. This project promises to advance our understanding of the effects of different types of extreme weather on daily lived experiences and well-being and speaks directly to NIA’s current “heightened interest in research to understand how extreme weather and disaster events impact older adults” (NIH PAR-19-250). Using novel data linkage, the research team will provide a population-based understanding of older adults’ time allocation and well-being on days when they experience extreme weather events. 


Photo of Rachel Hardeman    Photo of Sam Meyers

The Paradox Of Racial Disparities In Alzheimer’s Disease

Rachel Hardeman, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Samuel L. Myers, Jr., Professor of Public Policy.

This research seeks to resolve a paradox that drives misunderstandings of the impact of Alzheimer’s on African American and white populations. Although research on the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia indicates a much higher incidence among African Americans than whites, mortality rates indicate the opposite. The proposed pilot study tests two competing hypotheses for the divergence in the racial gaps in the recorded diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders vs official mortality statistics. The first hypothesis is that there is a pattern of misdiagnosis of African American patients with cognitive deficits possibly due to lower quality medical care or lack of access to expensive modern screening technologies that minimize misdiagnoses. The second hypothesis is that there is a statistical anomaly arising from the fact that relatively few deaths result in autopsies, the definitive assessment of the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.