Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Simon Laboratory

Healthy Aging

Current Projects

Suicide Prevention in Chinese Older Adults

By 2030, Chinese older adults will account for a quarter of the world’s aging populations. Despite the rapid growth of Chinese populations in the U.S., there are marked health disparities among Chinese older adults, which are further exacerbated by the complex linguistic and cultural nuances in studying Chinese populations, particularly on issues of suicidal thoughts. This collaborative study, led by the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging and Northwestern University, aims to design and refine a culturally adapted intervention to reduce the frequency and intensity of suicidal thoughts in Chinese older adults. Funding support is provided by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE)

The PINE study is a comprehensive health and well-being assessment of Chinese older adults in Chicago. Between 2011 and 2013, we conducted face-to-face interviews with 3,018 community-dwelling older adults. Data from this study reveal that Chinese older adults may not be enjoying the best quality of life: 1 in 2 older adults have difficulties performing daily activities necessary for living independently; over half of the older adults experience depressive symptoms; 1 in 4 older adults have experienced some form of elder abuse; and 1 in 10 older adults have had suicidal thoughts during their lifetime. A second wave of interviews is currently underway to illuminate how the health and well-being of this community has changed over time. Funding support is provided by the National Institute on Aging.

Completed Projects

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty among Seniors and their Family Caregivers

Health care costs pose significant challenges for the ill and their family members, who often serve as caregivers while foregoing educational or career opportunities. Economic burden compounded with opportunity loss can place households at risk for long-term economic deprivation. Family caregivers acquire marketable skills, however, that are rarely utilized by the health care industry but could be paired with many existing career trajectories to encourage economic resilience while addressing a health care talent shortage. By collecting data on economic impact, training interest, and programming potential through interviews with caregivers and stakeholders in DuPage County, this study explores the feasibility of establishing a formal training option for family caregivers interested in pursuing a variety of health care careers, ranging from direct care to social services and administrative support. Funding support is provided by the National Institute on Aging and the American Geriatrics Society.

Chinese Health and Aging Project: Building Support Through Community Engagement

This project expanded community engagement efforts to explore the cultural barriers of studying cognitive function and physical disability in the Chinese aging population.

National Institute on Aging RC4 Community Engaged Research Partnership

The objectives of this study were to build a locally relevant and culturally appropriate infrastructure to create a bilingual data resource center to sustain epidemiological research in U.S. Chinese populations.