Skip to Content | Text-only

News & Events


GSU lands the top spot in research publication 

Gerontology Assistant Professor Ann Pearman, Ph.D. and former Gerontology Master’s student Abhinandan Batra, M.A. recently published a review article on Late Onset Schizophrenia: A Review for Clinicians in Clinical Gerontologist.  The paper was the feature article in this issue of CG.  The idea for the paper came from a literature review that Abhinandan wrote for Dr. Pearman’s course on the Psychology of Aging.  Dr. Pearman’s Geropsychology Lab is currently working on a follow-up article on Very Late Onset Schizophrenia.  Having completed his MA in Gerontology, Abhinandan is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. 



GSA Presentations from the Gerontology Institute 

November 18, 2011 - November 22, 2011


Sunday November 20th

8:00 a.m.

Hynes 210 (Convention Center)


Symposium Paper: An Evaluation of Methods Used to Assess Assisted Living Residents’ Social Support Networks. 

Molly M. Perkinsl1; Mary M. Ball2; Candace L. Kemp2


1. Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

2. Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.



We evaluate methods used in a 3-year multiple-methods study that investigates social relationships in assisted living (AL). This NIA-funded project (1R01 AG030486-01) is the first study in AL to examine in-depth how residents’ social relationships develop and change over time and the impact these ties have on residents’ health and well-being. It also is the first study in AL to use Antonucci’s (1986) social network mapping tool. In addition to addressing our specific research aims, another objective of this research is to make a methodological contribution by evaluating the effectiveness of Antonucci’s instrument for use with the AL population. Data sources include 3,660 hours of observation and interviews with 244 residents and 32 providers from 9 facilities in metro Atlanta. We compare results based on multiple methods used and conclude that Antonucci’s instrument is an effective tool for use in AL. We address several challenges and make recommendations.


Monday November 21st  

11:45 a.m.

Hall A (Convention Center)


Poster Presentation: Individual, Facility, and Community Factors Influencing Social Relationships in Assisted Living

Amber Meadows1, Peter Y. Paye1, Shanzhen Luo2, Molly M. Perkins3


1. The Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

2. School of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.

3. Division of Geriatrics and Geriatric Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA




Existing research on social relationships in assisted living (AL) is limited. Some evidence suggests that diminished mental and physical health can impede the development of meaningful connections between residents. These factors, coupled with the circumstantial nature of residents’ relationships in AL, may reduce access to significant resident-resident ties. The current in-depth case study of a 38-apartment AL residence in an in-town suburb of Atlanta, Georgia is aimed at enhancing knowledge of residents’ social experiences in these care settings. This study is part of a larger NIA-funded study (1 R01 AG030486) aimed at understanding how individual, sociocultural, and environmental factors shape AL residents’ social relationships. Data used in the current study include field notes from 485 hours of observation conducted over the course of one year, 15 resident surveys, and in-depth interviews with 4 residents and 3 staff. We used a grounded theory approach to analyze the data. Findings show that despite substantial barriers, it is possible to develop and maintain meaningful social ties in the AL setting, and a confluence of factors influences such relationships. Paramount among these is residents’ shared interests and common background, as well as their individual cognitive status, personality, and physical health. Other key factors include an innovative activity program and active involvement of staff, families, and other members of the community in the social life of the home. Findings have implications for interventions to improve AL residents’ quality of life.



Monday, November 21st

11:45 a.m.


Poster Presentation:  Addressing Fall Prevention and Enhancing Mobility Among Older Adults

Rebecca Ellis


Tuesday November 22nd

10:00 a.m.

Republic Ballroom B (Sheraton Boston)


Symposium: Social Relationships and Resident Health in Assisted Living


Candace  L. Kemp1; Molly M. Perkins2;



Toni C. Antonucci3

1. The Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

2. Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.


Symposium Abstract:


Assisted living (AL) is an increasingly popular long-term care setting for the growing population of frail elders in the United States, and available research indicates that residents’ social ties, especially coresident ties, are important to their overall well-being. Yet, few studies, have examined social relationships in AL in depth, and none has focused specifically on how these relationships impact residents’ health. This symposium presents key findings from two NIA-funded projects that investigate the impact that social relationships have on residents’ health. We define health broadly to include physical, mental, and sexual health, as well as social well-being. One project (1R01 AG030486-01) is a 3-year study that incorporates both qualitative and quantitative methods, and includes social network mapping. Data includes 3,600 hours of observation and interviews with 244 residents and 32 providers from 9 facilities in metro Atlanta. A second project (R21 AG03017-01), also conducted in metro Atlanta, involves 6 homes and focuses on sexual relationships. Data from this 2-year study include 173 hours of observation and 67 interviews with residents, providers, and family members. The symposium consists of four papers in addition to an overview of study methods and a discussion by a leading scholar in the area of social relations and health. Papers address:(1) how couplehood shapes residents’ social lives and well-being; (2) challenges of intergenerational communication about sex; (3) the impact of death and decline on residents and the AL social environment; and (4) a test of Antonucci’s (1985) Convoy of Social Support model.

Symposium Paper:s


“My Day Revolves Around What She’s Going to Do”: Couplehood and Social Life in Assisted Living

C. L. Kemp1; M. Ball1; M. M. Perkins2; N. K. Sandhu1; A. Meadows1
1. The Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

2. Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.


Although a minority, married and unmarried couples frequently reside in assisted living (AL) communities. Yet little is known about how couplehood influences social experiences in these settings where most residents are uncoupled. This paper presents an analysis of ethnographic data from our study on social relationships involving eight AL communities. We consider how couplehood affects residents’ social lives and coresident relationships. Findings suggest that being coupled sets residents apart from others in terms of daily routines, social behaviors, and relationships. Couples have “built-in-partners”, but interdependence or one partner’s dependence on or concern for the other typically limits coresident relationships, especially in the context of health decline. Marriage and dating often meet with different social receptions. While marriage is admired, certain residents, particularly widows, tend to express disapproval and gossip about unmarried couples. Based on our findings, we discuss strategies for promoting positive relationships for coupled and uncoupled AL residents alike.


“This is our last stop.”: Death and Dying in Assisted Living
M. Ball1; M. M. Perkins2; C. L. Kemp1; C. Hollingsworth1; V. Stanley1; Y. Paye1

1.The Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

2. Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA


Increasingly residents with greater physical and cognitive impairments are being admitted to assisted living (AL), and recent estimates show that from 14-22% of residents die in AL each year. This paper investigates the experience of residents who are dying and the impact that the changing landscape of AL and the death experience is having on other residents, staff, and family members in eight diverse AL settings where from 0%-25% of residents died over a one-year period. Although acknowledgement of death varied across sites and responses of residents and staff typically depended on prior relationships, the presence of decline and death was a pervasive influence on residents’ social networks and the social milieu. Hospice care, available in all facilities and used by the majority of residents who died, enhanced residents’ quality of care and life and ability to die in AL and relieved the burden of families and AL staff.


An Examination of the Convoy Model of Social Relations in Assisted Living

M. M. Perkins1; M. Sweatman2; M. M. Ball2; C. L. Kemp2

1. Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

2. Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

We use a modified version of Antonucci’s (1985, 2001) Convoy Model of Social Relations to analyze the relationship between AL residents’ overall life satisfaction and five types of predictors: (1) personal characteristics, (2) situational characteristics, (3) network structure, (4) network function, and (5) network adequacy. Data for this study come from an NIA-funded project (1R01 AG030486-01) that investigates social relationships in AL and is the first study in this setting to use Antonucci’s (1986) social network mapping tool. The study sample includes 193 residents from 9 AL facilities in metro Atlanta. Results of hierarchical multiple regression analysis largely support the relationships proposed in our conceptual model. Findings show that age, perceived health, network size, and perceived availability and adequacy of emotional support are important determinants of overall life satisfaction. The final model predicts 29% of the variance in this outcome. Findings have important implications for resident health and well-being.


“Not My Mother:” Challenges of Intergenerational Communication about Sex and Intimacy in Assisted Living
E. O. Burgess1; A. A. Bender1; C. E. Barmon1; M. Xavier-Brier2

1. Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, United States.
2. Georgia State University - Sociology, Atlanta, GA, United States.


  In assisted living facilities (ALFs) administrators, staff, and family members are often significantly younger than the older residents. This age gap leads to different approaches to care, health and well-being. Using observational and interview data from six ALFs, this grounded theory project analyzes how generational norms and values about sexuality, intimacy and aging influence how families and providers communicate with and about older adult residents’ sexuality. We found that younger generations had more difficulty with intergenerational dialogue about sex than older residents and the majority of communication about older adult sexuality relies on stereotypes. As a result of the discomfort and ageism in intergenerational communication about sex, older residents are infantilized and patronized. This can reinforce residents’ loss of independence and reduce well-being. Intergenerational communication about sex is further constrained by racial, ethnic, religious, and class differences. We conclude by discussing the importance of education and training about sexuality.