Jessica Finlay

Jessica Finlay
University of Michigan | U-M · Institute for Social Research

PhD, MA, BEd, BAH

About

66
Publications
13,204
Reads
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803
Citations
Introduction
As an interdisciplinary scholar in Geography and Gerontology, Jessica investigates how the built, social, and natural environments affect health and wellbeing in later life. Her research includes a strong focus on marginalized older adults, and seeks to advance strategies for more inclusive urban design through community-engaged, mixed-methods research.
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - December 2016
Dartmouth College
Position
  • Researcher
February 2015 - present
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Position
  • Primary Investigator
May 2013 - August 2013
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
January 2014 - June 2018
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Field of study
  • Geography and Gerontology
September 2011 - December 2013
September 2006 - April 2011
Queen's University
Field of study
  • Concurrent Education

Publications

Publications (66)
Article
While a growing body of evidence points to potentially modifiable individual risk factors for dementia, the built and social environments in which people develop and navigate cognitive decline are largely overlooked. This paper proposes a new theoretical concept, Cognability, to conceptualize how supportive an area is to cognitive health among agin...
Article
Neighbourhoods are fluid social and spatial constructs that vary by person and place. How do residential neighbourhoods shift as people age? This mixed-methods study investigates how perceived neighbourhood boundaries and size vary by individual and contextual characteristics. Semi-structured interviews with 125 adults aged 55–92 years living in th...
Article
The role of parks and nature to support well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain. To examine this topic, we used mixed-methods data collected in April–May 2020 from US adults aged ≥55 in the COVID-19 Coping Study. We quantitatively evaluated the associations between number of neighborhood parks and depression, anxiety, and loneliness; a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Therapeutic engagement with nature can support health and wellbeing among older adults. This may be particularly important to cope with adversities of the COVID-19 pandemic when public health measures have been particularly stringent for individuals in this age group. Utilizing therapeutic landscapes as a conceptual framework, we conducted a second...
Article
Full-text available
Background The goal of the present study was to determine whether a remote activity monitoring (RAM) system benefited caregivers who aided relatives with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias (ADRD) living at home. We hypothesized that over 18 months, families randomly assigned to receive RAM technology in the home of the person with ADRD would...
Article
Full-text available
Technology interventions for older persons and long-term care are generally utilized as real-time data capture tools to complement clinical or family care for older persons or as interventions themselves designed to improve important dementia care outcomes. Although research on novel technological interventions for people with Alzheimer's disease a...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the physical and mental health of older adults, yet it is unknown how much older adults worry about their own exposure. As older adults are at increased risk for severe complications from COVID-19, understanding patterns of worry may inform public health guidelines and interventions for this age group. We invest...
Article
Full-text available
Social distancing and shelter-in-place orders designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 increased isolation among persons with memory concerns (PWMC) and increased the burden on individuals providing their care. Technology, such as smartphones or tablets, has demonstrated potential to improve the social connections and mental health of older adults;...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic is fundamentally changing neighborhood landscapes as we shelter in place and adjust our lifestyles. To age-in-place is to live in one’s home and/or community “safely, independently, and comfortably.” The ability to age-in-place is a public health priority for all, regardless of income or health status, and requires a variety o...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic was met with conflicting government strategies in the handling of the virus. Older adults were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, yet little is known about their perspectives of the government response. Using data collected in September and October, 2020 from the online, nation-wide COVID-19 Coping Study, we conducte...
Article
Full-text available
People with memory concerns (PWMC) are likely to experience social withdrawal and isolation. Although assistive technologies and memory aids are available to support PWMC and their family caregivers, few have been shown to improve social engagement. This study aimed to gain perspectives of PWMC and their family caregivers on the feasibility and uti...
Article
Full-text available
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has set an urgent need to understand the impact of physical isolation on mental health. We aimed to investigate the relationships between physical isolation during the period when many US states had shelter-in-place orders (April-May 2020) and subsequent longitudinal trajectories of mental health in middle-aged and old...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic may fundamentally change neighborhood environments and ways of aging in place. This research aimed to investigate perceptions of and engagement in neighborhoods since the pandemic onset among online survey respondents of the COVID-19 Coping Study. We analyzed a random stratified sample of 500 open-ended responses collected Jul...
Article
Full-text available
We aimed to estimate the prevalence of loneliness and identify the key sociodemographic, employment, living, and health-related risk factors for loneliness among middle-aged and older adults during the early COVID-19 pandemic in the US, when shelter-in-place and social distancing restrictions were in place for much of the country. Data were collect...
Article
Full-text available
Rural areas have a higher proportion of older adults aging in place. Rural areas also face structural barriers to supporting social connectedness among older adults, including transportation barriers, greater geographic distances, and access to technological connectivity. This research aims to discuss rural-specific risks of loneliness and social i...
Article
People with memory concerns (PWMC) are likely to experience social withdrawal and isolation. Although assistive technologies and memory aids are available to support PWMC and their family caregivers, few have been shown to improve social engagement. This study aimed to gain perspectives of PWMC and their family caregivers on the feasibility and uti...
Article
Full-text available
Research suggests that the way individuals are oriented towards the future is deeply embedded in their psychology, shaping how they perceive and react to opportunities and threats, even at unconscious levels. We argue that exposures to opportunities and threats over the life course can shape future orientation at a deep level, and that word-valence...
Article
Objectives: Socialization predicts cognitive aging outcomes. Neighborhoods may facilitate socially engaged aging and thus shape cognition. We investigated places where older adults socialized and whether availability of these sites was associated with cognitive outcomes. Methods: Qualitative analysis of interviews and ethnography with 125 older adu...
Article
Background: Stay-at-home orders and other public health measures designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have increased isolation among persons with memory concerns (PWMC; individuals diagnosed with cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease or related dementias). The pandemic has also exacerbated challenges for family members who care for PW...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Stay-at-home orders and other public health measures designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have increased isolation among persons with memory concerns (PWMCs: individuals diagnosed with cognitive impairment or Alzheimer disease or related dementias). The pandemic has also exacerbated challenges for family members who care for PWMCs...
Article
Physical exercise benefits cognitive functioning and can protect against neurodegeneration. Neighborhood environments may be pivotal to physically active aging, and thus help shape older adults' cognitive function. This mixed-methods study investigated where older adults exercised outside the home, and whether availability of these neighborhood sit...
Article
Neighborhoods structure health and wellbeing in later life. Local spaces can encourage physically active and socially engaged aging in place, and may also nurture opportunities for cognitively-stimulating creative and complex activities such as reading; playing and listening to music; learning; and engagement in galleries, performing arts, and muse...
Presentation
Full-text available
Background: Exposure to parks and other residential green spaces have been associated with better physical and mental wellbeing in later life. However, there is limited evidence about their role during the COVID-19 pandemic when public health efforts to contain the virus have included shelter-in-place orders and restrictions of movement. The aim of...
Article
Technology-based tools, including remote activity monitoring (RAM) systems, have been proposed as valuable aids for family caregivers of people with dementia. Previous analyses have shown limited effects of these systems and highlighted a number of barriers, including false alarms. We used data from an ongoing embedded mixed method randomized contr...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the association of self-reported changes in alcohol consumption with the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and loneliness in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic among middle-aged and older US adults. Between April and May 2020, 6,938 US adults aged 55+ completed online questionnaires in the COVID-19 Coping Study, a national c...
Article
Full-text available
Air travel is increasingly accessible and rising numbers of older adults choose to fly. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) is also expected to increase due to advances in longevity and the aging Baby Boomer population. An ADRD diagnosis does not necessarily end the desire to travel for leisure, and air travel may be...
Article
Full-text available
Older adults’ perceptions of the presence and quality of neighborhood resources provide important information about the potential benefit of those resources but are not necessarily concordant with the actual physical resources available in that environment. There is debate about whether subjective perceptions of local context are more important for...
Article
Full-text available
In this exploratory sequential mixed-methods study, interviews with 125 adults aged 55-92 living in the Minneapolis (Minnesota) metropolitan area suggest that neighborhood boundaries are “fuzzy”. Qualitative analysis of neighborhood perceptions identified race, mobility, driving status, social connections, housing insecurity, land use, urbanicity,...
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on insights from critical race scholarship, this study examines how access to neighborhood resources varies among black and white older adults. Using Bayesian multilevel models, we estimate how evaluations of one’s neighborhood environment (e.g., perceived access to parks) varies by race, conditional on objective environmental measures (e.g...
Article
Full-text available
Does the world shrink as we age? The neighborhood captures a spatial area someone inhabits and moves through on a daily basis. It reflects a balance between internal perceptions and abilities, and the external environment which may enable or restrict participation in everyday life. We frequently hear that older adults have shrinking neighborhoods g...
Article
Full-text available
Rain, snow, or ice may discourage older adults from leaving their homes with potential consequences for social isolation, decreased physical activity, and cognitive decline. This study is the first to examine potential links between annual precipitation exposure and cognitive function in a large population-based cohort of older Americans. We examin...
Article
In this exploratory sequential mixed-methods study, interviews with 125 adults aged 55–92 (mean age 71) living in the Minneapolis (Minnesota) metropolitan area suggested that eateries, including coffee shops and fast-food restaurants, represent popular neighborhood destinations for older adults and sources of wellbeing. Thematic analysis of how old...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: Theory suggests that individuals with higher neuroticism have more severe negative reactions to stress, though empirical work examining the interaction between neuroticism and stressors has yielded mixed results. The present study investigated whether neuroticism and other Big Five traits moderated the effects of recent stressful life...
Article
Full-text available
OBJECTIVES/GOALS: Environmental factors may significantly increase the risk of or buffer against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, yet strategies to address cognitive decline and impairment to date largely overlook the role of neighborhoods. This mixed-methods study is the first to examine potential links between access to eateries and cog...
Article
Full-text available
Aging is one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century. Older populations dramatically shape cities and urbanization, yet remain largely overlooked within geography. This paper critically examines evolving socio-spatial manifestations of old age in American cities. Age is an openly-stated and deeply important social...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Managing the complex and long-term care needs of persons living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) can adversely impact the health of informal caregivers as well as their care recipients. Online personal health records (PHR) are one way to potentially alleviate caregiver burden by simplifying ADRD healthcare management...
Article
Full-text available
Background Managing the complex and long-term care needs of persons living with Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD) can adversely impact the health of informal caregivers and their care recipients. Web-based personal health records (PHRs) are one way to potentially alleviate a caregiver’s burden by simplifying ADRD health care management...
Article
The concept of aging in place attracts older adults, scholars, policymakers, and service providers alike. Interviews with 125 independent-dwelling men and women (mean age 71 years) and ten policymakers/community service providers queried for elements of urban and suburban contexts that strengthen or weaken desires and abilities to age in place. Ove...
Article
Full-text available
The benefits of technology to alert family caregivers to the needs of persons with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias (ADRD) are unclear. Previous research indicates that remote activity monitoring (RAM) system alerts can be alternately reassuring and highly stressful for caregivers. We conducted a parallel convergent mixed-methods analysis o...
Article
Full-text available
Population aging and longevity in an era of immense environmental instability raises concerns about the precarity of aging and insecurity in later life. From home- and neighborhood-level insecurities to uncertainties generated by climate change or broad economic and sociopolitical upheaval across the globe, the factors contributing to instabilities...
Article
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Snowfall, sleet and rain can adversely affect the mobility of older adults, with negative consequences for engagement in daily activities and socializing. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can negatively impact cognitive functioning. We tested whether long-term exposure to precipitation – particularly snow and cold rain (precipitatio...
Article
Full-text available
In this exploratory mixed-methods sequential design study, interviews with 125 adults aged 55-92 (mean age 71) living in the Minneapolis (Minnesota) metropolitan area suggest that large-chain fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s may serve as reservoirs of cognitive function. Thematic analysis revealed perceived benefits of fast-food settings fo...
Article
Full-text available
Education’s ambiguous association with cognitive decline may be due to unmeasured effect heterogeneity, including variation across environmental contexts. In areas with more social and physical resources, education may play less of a role in shaping cognitive trajectories. In areas with fewer resources, educational capital may be more important for...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental factors may significantly increase the risk of, or buffer against, age-related cognitive decline, yet policies and practices to improve cognitive health outcomes to date largely overlook the role of neighborhoods and socio-physical environmental contexts. Residence in socioeconomically advantaged neighborhoods may promote cognitive fu...
Article
Full-text available
Research on temperature and cognition is sparse, including effects of outdoor air temperature on cognitive testing performance. Furthermore, little is known about the modifying role of region and seasonality in temperature-cognition associations. We linked daily temperature data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather stations...
Article
In unassuming neighborhood locales, such as coffee shops, hair salons, and malls, people meet to socialize, express themselves, and support one another. These 'third places' enrich social interaction, sense of community, and belonging outside of the home and workplace. Yet third places are closing across the United States. Americans may be losing a...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this introductory article to the special issue on psychosocial outcome measures in Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions is to outline new frameworks to more effectively capture and measure the full range of how people living with Alzheimer's dementia and their family caregivers experience the diseas...
Article
Mark W. Skinner, Gavin J. Andrews and Malcom P. Cutchin (eds), Geographical Gerontology: Perspectives, Concepts, Approaches, Routledge, UK and New York, 2018, 332 pp., hbk US $140, ISBN 13: 978-1-138-24115-2. - Volume 39 Issue 5 - JESSICA M. FINLAY
Article
The concept of aging in place (AIP) attracts older adults, scholars, policymakers, and service providers alike. However, are our homes and neighborhoods able to accommodate widespread AIP? Qualitative thematic analyses of semi-structured interviews queried for elements of urban and suburban contexts that strengthen or weaken AIP desires and abiliti...
Article
The role of technology in aiding family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia (ADRD) is unclear. We conducted a preliminary embedded experimental mixed methods analysis of a randomized controlled study of 132 persons with ADRD and their family caregivers to evaluate the impact of remote activity monitoring (RAM) on ca...
Article
Family members are prominent in providing necessary care to persons with dementia in the United States. Although there exist a number of evidence-based supports/interventions for family caregivers of persons with dementia, there is an increased call on the part of policymakers and researchers (e.g., the National Alzheimer’s Project Act) to develop...
Article
What constitutes a ‘good place to grow old’? This study aimed to characterise salient features of built and social environments that are essential to support low-income ageing residents. Seated and mobile interviews were conducted with community-dwelling older participants (aged 55–92, mean = 71 years) in three distinct socio-economic and geographi...
Article
Family members are prominent providers of necessary care to persons with dementia. The psychological, emotional, and social costs of care have led to the development of interventions to support these families. Although evidence supports the effectiveness of dementia caregiver interventions, few have been implemented into practice. Stakeholder invol...
Article
Background and objectives: This study aimed to evaluate if and how remote activity monitoring (RAM) improves caregiver outcomes for family members providing care for persons living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia (ADRD). Research design and methods: We conducted an embedded experimental mixed methods study of 132 persons living wi...
Article
Social isolation and loneliness are increasingly prevalent among older adults in the United States, with implications for morbidity and mortality risk. Little research to date has examined the complex person-place transactions that contribute to social well-being in later life. This study aimed to characterize personal and neighborhood contextual i...
Article
Technologies have emerged that aim to help older persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRDs) remain at home while also supporting their caregiving family members. However, the usefulness of these innovations, particularly in home-based care contexts, remains underexplored. The current study evaluated the acceptability and utility...
Article
Traditional university learning modalities of lectures and examinations do not prepare students fully for the evolving and complex world of gerontology and geriatrics. Students involved in more active, self-directed learning can develop a wider breadth of knowledge and perform better on practical examinations. This article describes the Evidence in...
Article
Therapeutic landscapes represent a lively field of inquiry in health geography. The health benefits of green and blue spaces feature prominently across this literature, and generate rich understanding of how it feels to encounter and move through natural environments. Juxtaposed against an abundant scholarship on green and blue (and growing attenti...
Article
Older adults’ lives are increasingly negotiated in, transformed by, and informed through a broad range of physical, social, and emotional settings. Seated and mobile interviews with community-dwelling older adults (n=125, mean age 71 years) explored everyday contexts of aging in three distinct case studies of the Minneapolis (USA) metropolitan area...
Article
Full-text available
Aging occurs in context; yet, too often environmental characteristics are ignored. Seated and mobile interviews with community-dwelling older adults (n=124, mean age 71 years), combined with environmental audits, explored the everyday contexts of older adults living in three distinct areas of the Minneapolis (USA) metropolitan area. Convergent para...
Article
This article considers the mobile interview method’s utility to geography through five strengths: the ability to (1) produce spatially grounded and place-specific data, (2) access subtler and more complex meanings of place, (3) create opportunities for flexible and collaborative conversation with participants in situ, (4) build rapport and adjust p...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to argue that Richard Register's ecocity model offers a strategic framework to help guide sustainability initiatives in North American higher education (HE) institutions. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This conceptual paper examines the theory of the ecocity and investigates the implications for its proposed bu...

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