Dr. Richard Smith & Dr. Amanda Lehning

Aging in Place in Gentrifying Neighborhoods: Implications for Physical and Mental Health

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“Gentrification can be thought of as a form of community loss.”

Dr. Richard Smith &
Dr. Amanda Lehning

In this episode, our guests Dr. Richard Smith and Dr. Amanda Lehning discuss aging in place and why it is important to understand how older adults experience their communities, in particular their physical and social environments. Our guests describe their research examining the effects of remaining in gentrifying neighborhoods on older adults’ self-reported health and mental health, and highlight why social workers need to be concerned with how the sense of place and community impacts the aging population.

Richard Smith, PhD, is an associate professor at Wayne State University School of Social Work and is the concentration chair for the Innovation in Community, Leadership, and Policy concentration. His research interests include sustainable community development, inequality, and migration. He currently serves as a core advisor for the International Ecocity Standards project of Ecocity Builders, Inc. Dr. Smith’s research is published in Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Policy Practice, International Journal of Social Welfare, Social Work, Urban Studies, and others. In 2013, he was awarded the Emerging Scholar prize by the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration.


Amanda Lehning, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She received an MSW with a concentration in policy practice and advocacy from Bryn Mawr College and a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2013, she completed a National Institute on Aging-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. From 2014 to 2016, she served as a health and aging policy fellow in the Office of the Surgeon General. Her research focuses on the effects of policies, programs, and neighborhood infrastructure on elder health, well-being, and the ability to age in place.

Interviewer: Shaanta Murshid, PhD

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