Healthy Aging Research Seminar: Dr. Jessica Finlay

Title: Cognability: An ecological theory of neighborhoods and cognitive aging”

Dr. Jessica Finlay is a health geographer and environmental gerontologist in the Social Environment and Health Program at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. She uses qualitative, geospatial, and mixed methods to investigate the role of built, social, and natural environments for health and well-being in later life. Her research focuses on how neighborhood environments may increase risk for dementia or help buffer against cognitive decline. Dr. Finlay also investigates multifaceted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical, mental, social, and cognitive health of aging adults.

Summary: Individuals and families in every city, town, and rural area feel the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. While a growing body of evidence points to potentially modifiable individual risk factors for dementia, the everyday environments in which people develop and navigate cognitive decline are largely overlooked. This talk introduces a new theoretical concept, Cognability, to investigate how well your community supports cognitive health through places to exercise, connect with other people, and keep your mind active. Not everyone has access to these places, and some of us face additional health threats such as pollution from local factories and highways. It is important to identify which communities lack neighborhood resources to support cognitive health. That way we can prioritize community changes and neighborhood investments to create more equitable opportunities for healthy aging.

Please register for the seminar here.


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