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Elderly Interventions

Social work professors' research aids aging populations

Elderly Interventions

Two pairs of professors in the School of Social Work are producing innovative research to support the elderly and those who care for them.

Assistant Professors Noelle Fields and Ling Xu were awarded a $459,994 National Institutes of Health grant for their research, “The Senior Companion Program Plus: A Psychoeducational Intervention for African-American Dementia Caregivers.” The project aims to reduce the burden and stress that families experience when caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will work with the Senior Companion Program, part of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“To date, few studies have utilized lay providers for dementia caregiving interventions, and no studies have utilized the Senior Companion Program as a platform for this type of family caregiver intervention,” Dr. Fields says. “Our intervention augments the Senior Companion Program by adding a component specific to dementia family caregivers.”

Another project in the School of Social Work, led by Assistant Professors Kathy Lee and Rebecca Mauldin, seeks to mitigate loneliness and social isolation that older adults often experience. Together, Drs. Lee and Mauldin developed SageServe, an app that helps older adults strengthen existing social roles and develop new ones by connecting them to online-based volunteer opportunities. Last year, SageServe was recognized as the Best Human Services App Idea at the annual Social Work, Education, and Social Development Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

“When you combine technology and human services together, there is no estimating how impactful the research can become,” says Scott Ryan, dean of the School of Social Work. “As technology continues to advance how we approach creating community solutions, our professors highlight how social workers are utilizing innovative technology to build sustainable urban communities.”

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