Healthy Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Research Track | NYU Langone Health

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Section for Health Equity Research Tracks Healthy Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Research Track

Healthy Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Research Track

Researchers in the Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Track within the Section for Health Equity, part of NYU Langone’s Division of Health and Behavior, are conducting several studies to advance the wellbeing of older racial and ethnic minorities in the community setting.

Their interests include mental health in aging populations, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, the impact of the built environment on the health of older communities, and health resource and needs assessments of older minorities.

Building Community Capacity for Disability Prevention for Minority Elders: The Positive Minds, Strong Bodies Project

Chau Trinh-Shevrin, DrPH, leads the New York City site of the Positive Minds, Strong Bodies Project, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging. The main project is being conducted in the Mental Health Research Track.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Health Disparities Action Plan

Simona C. Kwon, DrPH, is working with the National Advisory Committee of the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health to draft an action plan for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research. This plan is based on a systematic review of the literature in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders and a Delphi consensus-building activity with community-based organizations across the country to assess research needs and priorities.

The Kickstart-Assess-Evaluate-Refer Toolkit Adaptation

Stella S. Yi, MD, MPH, is culturally and linguistically adapting a toolkit created by the Gerontological Society of America that primary care providers use in community settings to diagnose cognitive impairment and early dementia.

The Kickstart-Assess-Evaluate-Refer Toolkit (KAER) Adaptation is being tailored for the Bangladeshi, Chinese, and Korean American communities. Dr. Yi and her colleagues are applying a mixed methods approach to assess the usability and acceptability of tools to improve detection, timely diagnosis, and community–clinical linkages to care and resources for cognitive impairment for older Asian American adult populations.

Researchers then plan to disseminate the culturally adapted toolkit and best practices to community-based organizations, including senior centers and adult day services for older Asian Americans. This study is affiliated with the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health.

Impact of Construction on Older Adults in New York Chinatown

Dr. Kwon and Yi-Ling Tan, program manager, are conducting a literature review to help project how 8 to 10 years of construction of a new Chinatown jail complex will affect the long-term physical and mental health of nearby older adult residents. The correctional facility will abut Chung Pak senior housing.

In partnership with Sounds of New York City (SONYC) in NYU Tandon School of Engineering, the researchers placed a network of noise sensors on the Chung Pak building in February 2020 to collect baseline noise level data to compare with data after construction starts. Dr. Kwon, Ms. Tan, and colleagues are collaborating with community stakeholders in Chinatown to visualize and share the noise sensor data, highlight noise-related concerns, and capture the unique acoustic environment through audio recordings of sounds and experiences. A 2020 AARP Community Challenge Grant supports this project.

Dr. Yi also plans to assess how construction affects Chinatown fruit and vegetable vendors and whether residents’ access to and consumption of fresh produce may be impacted using a simulation modeling exercise in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Binghamton University, State University of New York. This effort is a part of a broader project in the Section for Health Equity’s Applied Research and Evaluation Unit to address dietary changes and cardiovascular health as a result of policy and programming in New York City.

Older Adult Community Health Resources and Needs Assessment

Social isolation, caregiving, family dynamics, sleep, and food insecurity are some of the many issues that researchers are evaluating with an older adult community health resources and needs assessment. Through collaboration with community partners in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Dr. Kwon and Dr. Yi are collecting information from people ages 50 and older across a variety of racial and ethnic identities, including those of Chinese, Russian, Latinx, Arab, African American, and Black heritage.

Engagement in Longevity and Medicine Research Collaborative

The Engagement in Longevity and Medicine Research Collaborative, co-led by Joshua Chodosh, MD, Scott E. Sherman, MD, and Dr. Trinh-Shevrin, is creating a centralized research infrastructure using NYU Langone’s clinical and community partnerships to advance the understanding Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Dr. Kwon is a co-investigator of the study and is leading the scoping review and qualitative components.

Community partners include the New York City Department for Aging, CaringKind, AARP, Korean Community Services of Metro New York, Inc, and senior centers throughout the city. The collaborative plans to evaluate and disseminate best practices for engaging, recruiting and retaining older populations for research projects; encourage the development of community-engaged and technology-based approaches to recruitment; and strengthen inclusive communication strategies for diverse aging populations that are representative of the National Institute on Aging’s priority populations.

This project is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging.

Dementia Literacy Education and Navigation for Korean Elders with Probable Dementia and Their Caregivers

Through this collaborative randomized controlled study being led by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Dr. Kwon and her colleagues are evaluating how an education and navigation support program can help older Korean Americans with likely dementia and their caregivers.

The community-based intervention, Preparing successful aging through dementia Literacy And Navigation (PLAN), is delivered in-language by trained community health workers based in partnering community sites, including Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York and Korean Community Service Center of Greater Washington. The researchers will assess the effect of PLAN on improving caregivers’ social support, self-efficacy in dementia care and service use, depression, quality of life, and dementia literacy.

Determining whether PLAN effects differ across age, sex, English proficiency, and education in caregiver subgroups is another study goal. An exploratory aim is to assess whether older Korean Americans with likely dementia benefit from the program. This study is supported by a National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging grant.

Systems to Understand Nutrition, Diet, and Active Living Opportunities in Adults 50+ Years

Dr. Yi is conducting this study, also known as SUNDIAL, to identify culturally appropriate approaches for improving lifestyle behaviors that prevent or slow cognitive decline in mid- to older-aged Chinese and Mexican adults. Learn more about this study, which is being conducted in the Section for Health Equity’s Applied Research and Evaluation Unit.

Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research Project

Dr. Trinh-Shevrin is co-investigator in the administration core of the Asian Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) study, led by researchers at Rutgers University. The RCMAR aims to establish complementary cores in administration, statistics and measurement, research and education, and community liaison and recruitment to improve Asian American older adult health through new research and a cohort of diverse scientists that focus on this population. Learn more about RCMAR.

NYU BOLD Public Health Center of Excellence on Early Detection of Dementia

NYU BOLD Public Health Center of Excellence on Early Detection of Dementia is a national repository and catalyst for implementation of evidence-based and evidence-informed public health strategies that increase early dementia detection. In both the general public and healthcare communities, our goal is to increase the public’s knowledge about signs of cognitive difficulty and how to talk with a healthcare professional about cognition, while equipping healthcare providers with meaningful answers. The center is funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is led by Dr. Chodosh, with co-investigators Dr. Kwon and Dr. Trinh-Shevrin. It is affiliated with the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health and the NYU-CUNY Prevention Research Center.