University of Michigan

MiCDA is an interdisciplinary community of scholars from across the University of Michigan with a shared interest in the demography of aging. MiCDA affiliates pioneer the collection of innovative data for study of the demography of aging and lead major surveys on aging. MiCDA affiliates are accelerating understanding of the changing demography of late-life disability and dementia and family caregiving and identifying factors over the life course that shape disparities in health and wellbeing in later life. MiCDA’s activities promote pilot research and bring networks of researchers together to form new collaborations; provide junior faculty with career development opportunities; and make available to researchers data that require secure handling..

Research Themes
Biology, genetics and demography of aging; Cognitive aging and the demography of dementia; Determinants of health, well-being and longevity; Disability, health care and long-term care; Health trends and disparities; Health and well-being in later life; Aging, genetics and social science; Survey measurement and methods; Family caregiving to older adults.

Pilot Projects

  • 2021. Joelle Abramowitz. Effects of California’s Paid Family Leave on Work and Caregiving of Older Adults.

    Paid family leave laws have the potential to alter older adults’ allocation of time spent in work and caregiving, which can in turn affect their own physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. In 2004, California became the first state to require that employers provide paid family leave to their employees.  Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, this pilot project examines changes in older adults’ time spent in work and caregiving before and after California’s 2004 paid family leave law.


  • 2021. Joshua Ehrlich. The Synergistic Impact of Late Life Vision Impairment and Genetic Risk on Cognitive Decline and Dementia.

    This pilot study will test the central hypothesis that vision impairments is a “second hit” that potentiates the risk of cognitive decline and dementia among those that carry the APOE ε4 allele. This hypothesis will be tested using data from the nationally-representative Health and Retirement Study and its sub-study, the Aging, Demographics and Memory Study.


  • 2021. Sarah E. Patterson. When Family Care Isn’t Available: Examining Unmet Care Needs of Kinless, Distanced, and Disconnected Older Adults.

    This pilot project will examine unmet care needs across time and related well-being outcomes for older adults among three at-risk groups  – the kinless (no partner or children), the distanced (no partner or children nearby), and the disconnected (partner and children are disengaged).  Analyses will draw upon the 2015-2019 National Health and Aging Trends Study, a panel study of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older.


  • 2021. Yulya Truskinovsky, Wayne State University. The Lasting Impacts of COVID-19 on Long-Term Care Expectations and Outcomes for High-Need Older Adults.

    Documenting changes related to the pandemic in long-term services and supports and family care is crucial in understanding the immediate impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable older adults and for establishing a nationally representative baseline to study longer-run effects.  This pilot project will use data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the effect of the COVID-19 on long-term services and supports and care decisions among older adults who need help with at least two activities of daily living (ADLs) or with probable dementia (high need older adults).


  • 2021. Mengyao Hu. Dementia Diagnosis Classification Using Deep Learning Neural Networks Based on Clock Drawing Test (CDT) and Medicare claims.

    This pilot study will develop advanced deep learning neural networks to analyze Clock-Drawing Test images to predict dementia diagnosis. The pilot will draw upon Medicare claims linked with a large, publicly available repository of clock images from the 2011-2019 National Health and Aging Trends Study, a panel study of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older.


  • 2020. Hwajung Choi. Care Allocation among Adult Children of Older People with Dementia.

    Adult children often take on central roles in caring for aging parents-especially when a parent develops dementia. How families allocate care among adult children, how this allocation changes over the course of dementia, and implications for the course of the disease remain largely unexplored. Using nearly 20 years of data from the Health and Retirement Study, the proposed pilot project will explore new measures of care allocation among adult children in families in which a parent has dementia.


  • 2020. Jessica Faul, Colter Mitchell. The Effects of Collection Procedures on DNA Methylation Measurement in Population-based Surveys of Aging.

    Epigenetics—the study of gene modifications that do not involve changes to the nucleotide sequence—holds great promise as a potential indicator of molecular change from contextual effects and aging and consequently an early signal of health disparities. Over the last few years aging studies have assayed thousands of genetic samples at great expense. However, despite evidence suggesting sensitivity of epigenetics assays to external stimuli, no research has explored the effects of collection and storage conditions on epigenetic data. This pilot project extends prior work on DNA quality and genomic assay stability to include DNA methylation—the most widely used (and most stable) measure of epigenetics in aging studies.


  • 2020. Lindsay Kobayashi. Investigating Cross-National Variation in Later-Life Cognitive Health Inequalities.

    By 2050, nearly 70% of global dementia cases are projected to occur in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There is an urgent need to build up scientific evidence and resources to understand the etiology of cognitive aging outcomes in LMICs. A first step is to understand the measurement properties of various cognitive tests administered in these countries. This pilot project will use new data from five internationally harmonized longitudinal studies of aging using the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP), including three LMICs and two high-income countries. Psychometric methods will be used to equate cognitive test item scores across countries so that cross-national comparisons may proceed.


  • 2020. Yajuan Si, David S. Johnson. Confidentiality and Privacy Protection after Record Linkage: Laying the Groundwork for Synthetic Record Linkage.

    Augmenting surveys with information about the places sample members have lived can enhance the value of survey data. Restricted enclaves with remote access are valuable for sharing such data, yet barriers to use outside such environments remain because of confidentiality and privacy concerns. The Census Bureau has recently taken steps to create synthetic versions of some of its data products, but the robustness of such data to answer questions not explicitly considered by the synthetic data generation technique has been questioned. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this pilot project will develop and evaluate procedures to create survey data linked with synthetic geographic data designed to address confidential and privacy as well as analytic concerns.


  • 2019. Frederick Conrad. Surveying Older Populations using Video Communication Technologies.

    This research project will examine age-related differences in data quality, participation, respondent experience, and costs in two types of interviews: video-mediated (live two-way communication via platforms like Skype) and video self-administered (video-recorded interviewers asking questions and respondents answering by typing or clicking). These two survey modes are promising because they use off-the-shelf video technology and are less costly than face to face interviews, but they are not yet widely deployed. The project will provide new insights regarding how video-based interviewing affects respondent behavior and experience in surveys, in particular, for older populations.


  • 2019. Neika Sharifian. The Cognitive Costs and Benefits of Social Technology use in Older Adulthood.

    Social engagement is an important protective factor for age-related cognitive decline and dementia. However, it is unclear whether social engagement through social technologies (i.e., texting, social media, video chat, email) demonstrate the same protective effects as face-to-face social interactions. The proposed study will assess whether previously-established social technology measures demonstrate measurement equivalence across younger and older adult populations and are psychometrically sound for use in older adults.


  • 2019. Noah J. Webster. Housing Context and Functional Health Among Lower Income Older Adults: The Mediating Role of Social Resources.

    Housing characteristics and disability in later life are closely tied, but whether housing can positively influence functioning through social resources is unclear. Using data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), this pilot study will determine if and which social resources are a pathway through which housing is related to functional health in later life.


  • 2018. Joshua Ehrlich. Vision Impairment, Participation and Subjective Wellbeing in Older Adults.

    Blindness and vision impairment affects 1 in 11 adults over age 65 in the United States. Among older adults, vision impairment is associated with loss of independence, decreased quality of life and increased morbidity and mortality. In this study, we explore the pathways through which vision impairment influences poorer subjective wellbeing and whether this association is mediated through participation or activity limitations.


  • 2018. Kristine Ajrouch. Measuring Alzheimer's Disease in Arabic-Speaking Populations.

    The incidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) is higher among many racial/ ethnic minorities, but rates among Arab Americans, who exhibit more cardiovascular and other risk factors than whites, are unknown.  The first of its kind, this pilot study translates and validates established measures of cognition, function and behavior commonly used in MCI and ADRD diagnosis so they may be used with aging Arab Americans.


  • 2018. Sela Panapasa. The prevalence, distribution and correlates of disability and comorbidity in the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander aging population: results of a population-based study.

    This project undertakes the first systematic analysis of the 2014 Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander-National Health Interview Survey (NHPI-NHIS) to understand the burden of disease and disability among the aging NHPI population. This project will provide important baseline information on the aged NHPI population and inform future directions for research, intervention, and policy.


  • 2017. Roshanak Mehdipanah. Examining the Role of Housing Tenure and Health on the Aging Population in the U.S.

    This pilot study examines the relationship between housing characteristics and health among older Americans. Using the Health and Retirement Study, we hypothesize that, homeownership will have a protective effect over negative health outcomes in disinvested neighborhoods and that affordable housing and good housing conditions protect against negative health outcomes.


  • 2017. Courtney Polenick, Kira Birditt, Helen Kales. Multimorbidity Patterns in Aging Couples: Longitudinal Associations with Functional Disability.

    Using data from ten waves (1996 to 2014) of the Health and Retirement Studies, this study examines patterns of multi-morbidity both within and between spouses, focusing on concordance in the management activities required by multiple conditions.


  • 2017. Laura Zahodne. Cognitive resilience to depressive symptoms in diverse older adults.

    Significant knowledge gaps regarding the depression-dementia link include modifiable factors that attenuate this link and reasons for differences in resilience across racial groups. This pilot addresses these gaps by recruiting a racially diverse, population-representative sample of older adults for psychosocial, cognitive, and functional assessment and by examining how modifiable psychosocial resources that differ across race promote cognitive resilience to depressive symptoms.


  • 2017. Melissa Wei. Chronic diseases and physical functioning: development and validation of an ICD-coded multimorbidity indext.

    This pilot study uses patient-reported outcomes in the nationally-representative Health and Retirement Study and Medicare claims to develop and internally validate a multimorbidity index for International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-coded chronic conditions weighted to physical functioning. The study will yield a validated multimorbidity measure that captures the impact of coexisting chronic diseases on physical functioning in aging adults relevant for clinical care, research, and policy.


  • 2017. Neil Mehta. How do socioeconomic status, behaviors, and age interact to produce death risks?.

    This research evaluates the nature of interactions between two key socio-demographic variables (educational attainment, race/ethnicity) and two key behavioral risk factors (obesity and smoking) to determine whether the two sets of risk factors operate additively or multiplicatively with each to influence the chance of dying.


  • 2016. Christine Cigolle. Rural Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment and Chronic Disease: A Mixed Methods Study of Social and Health Factors in Their Care.

    This pilot undertakes a mixed-methods study of older adults with dementia in rural Michigan. The pilot addresses how rural older adults with dementia are cared for in their communities, as viewed by primary care physicians in those communities.


  • 2016. Cindy Lustig. Cholinergic genetic effects on health and cognition in older adults: Longitudinal analysis.

    Using the HRS representative sample of approximately 20,000 Americans over the age of 50, this pilot examines how limits in cholinergic function are related to changes in measurements of attention, memory, and cognitive status and physiological health across multiple time points.


  • 2016. Lauren Schmitz, Erin Bakshis Ware. Demographic and socioeconomic differences in polygenic risk of cardiovascular health in the Health and Retirement Study.

    This pilot examines the extent to which polygenic scores (PGSs) are associated with cardiovascular risk factors (i.e. systolic and diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, smoking, and alcohol use) and how these associations are modified by key demographic (i.e. sex, age) and socioeconomic factors across the life course.


  • 2016. Philippa J. Clarke. Muscle weakness among older adults: A silent epidemic.

    This pilot project charts new territory in investigating the long-term health consequences of dynapenia to: 1) predict whether individuals who fall below these proposed cut-points are at risk for developing future negative health outcomes; 2) examine proposed cut-points in predicting future health risks above and beyond traditional indicators of morbidity and mortality; and 3) understand the role obesity may play in exacerbating future negative health outcomes among those who are considered weak.


  • 2015. Jessica Faul, Colter Mitchell. The Effects of Collection Procedures on Telomere Length.

    Telomeres serve an important role in the protection of chromosomal DNA and the regulation of cellular senescence. The goal of this project is to examine the stability of salivary telomere length when stored at room temperature for periods of up to 1 year.


  • 2015. Martha J. Bailey, C. Hoyt Bleakley. Changes in Health and Longevity over the 20th Century: Evidence from North Carolina.

    This pilot demonstrates the feasibility of creating large-scale linked vital records to study changes in health and longevity over the 20th century. The pilot lays the groundwork for a multi-state resource called The Longitudinal, Intergenerational Family Electronic Micro-Database Project (LIFE-M), a large scale longitudinal database to cover men and women born 1881-1930.


  • 2015. Pamela Giustinelli. Understanding Uncertainty in Older Adults' Reports of Expectations: An Application to Long-Term Care Preferences.


  • 2014. Helen Levy, Kenneth M. Langa. Cognitive ability and awareness of hypertension in older Americans.


  • 2014. Colter Mitchell. Applying Whole Genome data to Common Social Science Issues.


  • 2014. Sarah Burgard. Understanding Recent Change in Gender Differences in Life Expectancy among Adults in Wealthy Countries.


  • 2013. Amelia Karraker, Robert F. Schoeni. Psychological Human Capital and Mortality across the Life Course: Evidence from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.


  • 2013. Fabian T. Pfeffer. Do Grandma And Grandpa Matter? Uncovering the importance of the elderly for the socio-economic wellbeing of descendants.


  • 2013. Pearl Lee. Physical Activity among U.S. Adults with Diabetes and Prediabetes, 2006-2010.


  • 2013. Vicki Freedman. Translating a telephone instrument to the web: development of best practices.


  • 2012. Carey Sherman. Intergenerational Support and Caregiving in Late Life: The Role of Stepfamily.


  • 2012. Kenzie Latham, Philippa J. Clarke. Socioeconomic Disparities of Participation and Time Use among Disabled Older Americans.


  • 2012. Lauren Nicholas. Patient Long-Term Outcomes and Public Reporting of Hospital Quality.


  • 2012. Mary McEniry. Early Life Family and Community Environment and Older Adult Health: Linking US Census Data from the Early 20th Century with Puerto Rican Survey Data.


  • 2011. Arline T. Geronimus. Is the error in telomere length measurement introduced by EBV-immortalization of DNA random or systematic?: A Pilot Feasibility Study.


  • 2011. Lauren Nicholas, Cassandra Dorius. Will Changing Trends in Marriage Hurt Medicare?.


  • 2011. Melvin Stephens. Caloric Intake Changes at Retirement: Evolution Over Time.


  • 2011. Robert Stawski. Stressful Experiences in the Health and Retirement Study: Prevalence and Associations with Mental and Physical Health.


  • 2010. Amy M. Pienta, George C. Alter, James McNally. Retirement in the 1950s: Rebuilding a Longitudinal Database.


  • 2010. Christine T. Cigolle. Cognitive Impairment and Frailty in the Older Adult Population: Do the Outcomes Differ?.


  • 2010. David Lam, Rebecca L. Thornton. Living Arrangements of the Elderly and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.


  • 2010. Deborah Lowry. Management of Old-Age Chronic Illness/Disease in Rural and Urban China.


  • 2010. Gwenith Fisher. Work Ability Among Older Workers in the HRS.


  • 2010. Lauren Nicholas. Economic Effects of Treatment Intensity: Elective Surgery, Paid and Unpaid Work.


  • 2010. Mary Beth Ofstedal, John Bound. Comparative Study of Physical Measures and Biomarkers in HRS and Its Sister Studies.


  • 2009. Arline T. Geronimus, Jay Pearson. Gender Differences in Stress-Mediated Wear and Tear with Age among Mexican Immigrants to the U.S.


  • 2008. David Lam, Murray Leibbrandt, Cally Ardington. The Impact of Illness and Death of Adult Children on the Elderly in South Africa.


  • 2008. John E. Knodel. Older-age Parents and AIDS in the ERA of ART, the Case of Thailand.


  • 2008. Kathleen Ford. HIV testing and Sexual Behavior among Older Thai Adults.


  • 2008. Mark Padilla, Haile Rhawa. Illness Narratives among Aging PLWHA in New York City.


  • 2008. William Axinn, Dirgha Ghimire. Social Change, HIV/AIDS, and Elderly Health and Well-Being in Nepal.


  • 2007. Toni Antonucci, Hiroko Akiyama, Kristine Ajrouch. Gender and Social Relations Across the Life Course in a Middle Eastern Cultural Context.



Center-Supported Publications


Center Administrator / Media Contact: Jana Deatrick