Research

The AgeInPlace lab, is dedicated to creating positive experiences within residential and community settings. We employ a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, integrating interview narratives from fieldwork, geographic data, and sometimes experimental design. Recently, our focus has honed in on aging in place, exploring both home and community environments. This entails developing apps for home accessibility assessment, analyzing behavioral patterns at home, and studying community interactions of older adults across diverse global settings, including rural and urban areas. Throughout these investigations, we prioritize the voices and daily practices of older adults. Our overarching goal is to make a substantial impact on design research and practice by contributing to policy discussions and providing design guidelines.

AgeInPlace In the Home

Our research focuses on enhancing aging in place at the home level by emphasizing the accessibility of homes and improving their livability for individuals as they age with increasing levels of functional limitations. We aim to assist people in accurately diagnosing home accessibility issues and studying the impact of physical barriers on the performance of activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Our research also investigates how these challenges affect health and wellbeing indicators via surveys and tracking key biomarkers and propose implementable design guidelines.

ARHAT

ARHAT, or the Augmented Reality Home Assessment Tool, is an innovative project designed to assist individuals in evaluating their home environments using a consumer-grade cell phone. This mobile application guides users through the steps needed to identify and address functional limitations and environmental barriers within their homes. By incorporating 3D capture technologies, ARHAT provides rapid and highly accurate assessments, focusing on the principles of the Housing Enabler (HE) and the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Funded by the RRF Foundation for Aging, the ARHAT project targets three critical areas – entrance, bathroom, and kitchen – which are essential for activities of daily living and are high-fall-risk areas. Overall, ARHAT aims to empower individuals to assess and enhance the accessibility and safety of their home environments using cutting-edge augmented reality technology.

Home is where we age

The Home is where we age project, funded by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership and the UW-Madison Graduate School, meticulously examined the daily activities of older adults at home. Our focus was on identifying common obstacles they encountered and documenting how home modifications influenced their health-related behaviors. Leveraging advanced technologies such as 3D scanning, biomarker tracking, and assessments by trained professionals, our study offers a thorough exploration into the dynamics of aging in place.

AgeInPlace In the Community

Our research delves into improving the quality of living for aging individuals within communities. Our research closely examines the infrastructure and networks of both naturally occurring and intentional communities worldwide — urban and rural alike. By studying these aspects, we aim to propose effective strategies for enhancing livability, especially for those aging with increasing frailty. Our comprehensive approach involves interviewing older adults, utilizing extensive data for GIS analysis, and presenting actionable directions for designers, planners, and policymakers.

Community Dynamics in Naturally Occurring Communities

Our project’s culmination is evident in this series of papers, each offering a unique perspective on aging dynamics in diverse communities. Through ethnographic field studies and GIS analysis, we explore urban and rural contexts in China and America. From identifying optimal locations for community-based facilities in Harbin to delving into rural aging experiences in northern China and examining challenges faced by ethnic minority elders in America, our research employs varied methodologies for a holistic view of aging dynamics. These papers not only illuminate obstacles for older adults but also highlight intricate relationships between aging, community, and the pursuit of independent living, enriching our understanding across diverse cultural and geographical settings.

Community Dynamics in Intentional Communities

Our diverse projects have produced a series of studies, each offering a unique perspective on intentional communities like intergenerational housing and continuing care communities. By employing a mix of ethnographic field studies, our research spans urban contexts in both Korea and America. These projects delve into the challenges residents face in intentional communities, providing a comprehensive understanding of dynamics within intentional living spaces. Using various methodologies, these efforts illuminate the obstacles community members encounter and underscore the intricate relationships between aging, community, and the pursuit of a shared, independent lifestyle.