Research Study of Older Residents in High-Crime Neighborhood

In the February 2017 edition of The Gerontologist, The Gerontological Society of America published an article based on a study led by Elena Portacolone, MPH, MBA, PhD, assistant professor at the Institute for Health and Aging and Pepper Center Scholar at the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine at UCSF. The study explored the factors contributing to the social isolation of older residents of a high-crime neighborhood through in-depth examination of their lived experiences. The article is entitled “’I Feel Trapped’: The Tension Between Personal and Structural Factors of Social Isolation and the Desire for Social Integration Among Older Residents of a High-Crime Neighborhood.” It exposes the jeopardies associated with a significant problem—isolation—affecting an estimated 8 million older adults.

headshot of elena portacolone The study followed twenty people in the Richmond community and helped document the great need and benefit of social programs for older adults. “A tension emerged between a longing to participate in society and the immersion in a reality so dense with obstacles that made participation in society difficult to attain,” Portacolone wrote in her summary.

“My intention is to use this article to raise awareness on the difficult conditions of older residents of Richmond, CA,” she says. “I hope that this work will lead to more resources injected to services for older adults in Richmond. At present, there is a marked discrepancy of resources in Contra Costa County, with more services available in affluent Walnut Creek and very little services available to older residents of nearby Richmond.”

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