GradImpact: Researching Community Factors to Improve Wellbeing of Senior Citizens

    Jessica Finlay, a doctoral candidate in geography and gerontology at the University of Minnesota, is researching how community factors such as transportation services, built infrastructure, and neighborhood social environment impact the wellbeing of senior citizens. She focuses on diverse communities, including lower income seniors, racial and ethnic minorities, and the disabled.


    Finlay’s dissertation research involves interviews with elderly residents in the Minneapolis metropolitan area to assess how their needs are (or aren’t) being met by existing services and infrastructure. There was so much interest in the elderly community to participate that Finlay increased the number of interviews from 60 seniors to 125. The next step in her research will involve interviews with decision makers, including community service providers and urban planners to assess accessibility issues.


    Finlay hopes to develop strategies for community planning that span the life course: urban and suburban environments that support residents of all ages. Local and national organizations’ movements to provide better spaces for Americans to grow old are gaining momentum. “A primary goal is to make multi-generational living communities where you don’t isolate older people into segregated areas; instead, aging residents can live safely and securely throughout the city or suburbs enmeshed within the local urban fabric,” says Finlay. To learn more about Jessica and her research, visit the University of Minnesota website.

    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


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