University of Minnesota
Office of the Vice President for Research

Research Advancement homefiller

Convergence Colloquia


The Aging colloquium brought together experts, practitioners and community leaders from across the U and state to hold a focused dialogue about some of the most pressing issues related to aging and discover opportunities for new parternships and programs that can meet those needs.

Read the report: Aging

Serendipity grants awarded

Planning and Promoting Opportunities for Lifelong Communities

Marilyn Bruin, Professor, Department of Design, Housing and Apparel, College of Design (PI)

U of M Collaborators: Sauman Chu, Associate Professor, Department of Design (Co-PI), Housing and Apparel, College of Design; Lin Nelson-Mayson, Director, Goldstein Museum of Design, College of Design (Co-PI); Juanjuan Wu, Department of Design, Housing and Apparel, College of Design (Co-PI)

External Collaborators: Jennifer Anderson, Public Health Program Specialist, Carver County Public Health; Katy Boone, Public Health Planner, Carver County Public Health; Kathy Carruth, Executive Director, Highland District Council; Diane Sprague, Director, Lifetime Home Project

Baby boomers comprise nearly 26 percent of the U.S. population, and the majority of this population believe they will be able to stay in their current homes as they age. If they cannot stay in their current homes, 85 percent of individuals age 50 and older would like to remain within their community. Community planners need to understand baby boomers’ needs, expectations and preferences as they pan the development and sustainability of resilient, vital communities that encourage health, active living.

Researchers will survey baby boomers to understand and compare residents' expectations for housing, retail, recreation, public spaces and other amenities to community plans, for the purpose of planning and designing communities that better meet residents' needs as they age. The project aims to encourage and facilitate conversations between community leaders, planners, developers, residents and researchers.

Complexities of Family Caregivers at Work

Joseph Gaugler, Associate Professor, School of Nursing (PI)

External Collaborators: Greg Owen, Consulting Scientist, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation (Co-PI); Maureen Kenney, Caregiver Services Program Manager, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation (Co-PI); Patricia Riley, Blue Cross Blue Shield (Co-PI)

Families provide the overwhelming majority of long-term care to older adults in need in the U.S. While family support often allows older adults to remain independent and at home, families may experience a number of stressors and negative health outcomes when providing care to an older adult with a chronic disease. These negative ramifications of caregiving are often exacerbated when family members are assuming other life responsibilities, such as employment.

Researchers will use secondary qualitative and quantitative data analysis, surveys, focus groups and collaboration with a large, local employer to explore the complexities of family care and employment. They will use their findings to initiate the development of interventions, services and policies to better support working family caregivers and their employers.

Transgender Older Adults in Minnesota: Locating a Hidden Population and Identifying Unmet Service Needs

Abel Knochel, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, UMD (PI)

U of M Collaborators: Teresa McCarthy, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

External Collaborators: Dylan Flunker, Research and Policy Manager, Rainbow Health Initiative (Co-PI); Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition; Northland LGBT Elders Group

Older adults who identify as transgender are a largely hidden population, despite being an underserved group with unique needs. Many transgender older adults have experienced rejection by family members or other social supports, and this isolation may lead to negative health outcomes, such as depression, stress, disability and poor physical health.

Researchers will study how transgender older adults experience and perceive the quality and welcome of health and aging services in the Twin Cities Metro and the Arrowhead Region in order to better meet their needs. They will map out the population of transgender older adults in these regions and the health and aging services treating this demographic along with gaps in services. Researchers will also connect transgender older adults in these regions to help break isolation.