A group of people wearing masks socialize

Social Engagement and Aging

Social Engagement and Aging

The aging population faces an increasing challenge in the realm of social isolation and social loneliness, especially for those living with Cognitive Impairment.  Encouraging social interactions is widely acknowledged as a protective factor against both social isolation and cognitive decline. However, older adults often participate in fewer social activities due to functional disabilities such as hearing or physical impairments, attention, and speech abilities, and less motivation to engage.

In our social engagement studies, we use various methodologies to explore how the built environment can facilitate inclusive socialization for older adults. Our aim is to establish best practice guidelines for future projects and provide design recommendations for enhancing existing facilities. 

Social Spaces in the Cognitive Empowerment Program Center

We investigated the environmental preferences of older adults for social interactions in social spaces. We conducted interviews with older adults living with mild cognitive impairments (MCI) and their care partners using photo elicitation methods. The result was the development of a framework of environmental variables that increase the willingness of older adults to engage socially, particularly those living with MCI.

We have also observed the social behavior of older adults within different seating arrangements in social spaces. The study found how different seating arrangements in social spaces impact the size and type of interactions in which older adults with MCI get involved.