Episode 250 - Dr. Richard Smith and Dr. Amanda Lehning: Aging in Place in Gentrifying Neighborhoods: Implications for Physical and Mental Health

Monday, October 22, 2018, 8:16:23 AM

Image of Drs. Richard Smith and 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.

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Average Rating: 4.4 stars (7 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 4stars  older adults and inner cities gentrification , Sunday, February 09, 2020

By Ashley D. :

An interesting point in which the discussion opened up about is how older adults tend to live in gentrified neighborhoods due to wanting to remain in their homes. Having social and physical environment features is very important to those individuals. The study conducted on all three neighborhoods- disinvested neighborhoods, gentrified neighborhoods, and high income neighborhoods. I found it interesting that the economically vulnerable individuals who were in gentrified neighborhoods tested higher health wise- than those in lower income neighbor. One would think that due to change in the environment some added stress would occur.
This discussion took me back to the time I spent in East Harlem, NY. In this specific neighborhood, gentrification began and over the course of two years- you saw the difference in those who were moving in. Spanish Harlem is known for their culture and diversity amongst the Latino population. Often times I found myself observe interactions amongst those who lived in the neighborhood and those who did not. The older adults who lived in the neighborhood always presented to be rather agitated when interacting with those who were not originally from the neighborhood. The individuals who lived in the neighborhood and knew one another did however take care of one another. That social aspect of the neighborhood amongst the older adults was vital for them, despite the gentrification that was occurring. In addition, while there were new shops and cafes coming about, some of the older stores were still present in the neighborhood.
I would however be interested in hearing how one can create an “age friendly” neighborhood in that of Manhattan. The aging population in this specific area especially lower incomes- how will you create an age friendly home or environment when their homes require multiple flights of stairs to go up- and there is no elevator.

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Average Rating: 4stars  podcast review of gentrification, Saturday, February 08, 2020

By Brianna Rine :

Recently I have seen the “gentrification” happen in my own neighborhood in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York. Living in a predominantly elderly population, I have seen more “glow-ups” of neighborhoods and towns after new, younger families move into the new cul-de-sacs and developments, while older style homes, with older-residence making minimal renovations. Even the manicured lawns and snow-plowed/de-iced streets of the developments show how much less care is put into the communities already in the system, and I find this extremely distasteful. How are the elderly population supposed to pay for those things, when much of the developing communities do not put in to their community, but they are forced to pay for expenses in the new growing communities.
(Spoiler-Alert for anyone who has not seen UP) The first thing I thought of when I heard the podcast was the scene in UP when the elderly main character, Carl, is constantly harassed about moving to a nursing home with pamphlets and flyers so the businessmen re-creating his hometown can use his land to develop new business buildings. They want to offer him exorbitant amounts of money, but Carl refuses until he is forced to leave because of an accidental mailbox incident. I could understand why Carl would be so mad about being harassed like that, as well as the rest of the older population. No one should be forced out of their home, because someone wants their community to be intaking more revenue. The fact that there were higher PHQ4 scores in gentrified neighborhoods than in in lower income neighborhoods was something I never really thought about, but can definitely understand. These people deserve humanity as much as anyone else, and being able to afford that humanity shouldn’t give them more stressors from their environment.

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Average Rating: 5stars  practicing awareness in gentrification effects among the aging population, Wednesday, April 24, 2019

By Kelsey Cretekos :

I found this podcast to be extremely insightful and I thank Dr. Smith and Dr. Lehning for sharing you knowledge. I would also like to applaud you both for your work and conducting research to help understanding this issue due to the limited amount of information out there today. It was great to hear how the needs assessment was conducted within neighborhoods and the usage of the census data with other information used to create the study analysis. I found the results of the study to be quite surprising, but when reasons explaining were discussed further it made sense. I would be curious to know why those lower income individuals were doing better than those with higher income? What were they involved in? What did they look forward to regarding their community?

I was immediately drawn to this podcast because gentrification is a concept I have been trying to understand from all angles associated. My friends have mixed feelings and understandings of gentrification. Some do not understand the issue and see no harm, while others are aware and feel bad they are involved in the process. I enjoyed hearing the study results and why social workers should be concerned. I gained a lot of knowledge which I can help others better understand gentrification and why if effects people.

There are many losses (such as social and cultural) associated with this topic and its important to be aware of those while working with different populations. I have seen various levels of this happening throughout parts of Buffalo and it is devastating for the individuals which live there. It will be important for social workers to maintain a trauma focused approach when addressing change for areas which are being gentrified and to make sure the community has involvement.

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Average Rating: 5stars  impact of gentrification on the aging, Sunday, February 10, 2019

By Anna Sharpe :

I found this topic very interesting. Having grown up in Buffalo and living here once again as an adult, it is easy to notice the effects of gentrification. The results of Dr. Smith and Dr. Lehning's research surprised me in that they suggested aging populations of a lower income report better health in gentrifying neighborhoods than in low income neighborhoods. I would have thought that the feeling of your neighborhood being taken over by a new, wealthy, population would have a detrimental effect on one's mental, and therefore overall health. My impression of gentrification is that it never happens in a way to benefit the people who are already there. As they mention in the podcast, local governments believe gentrification is great because it causes an increase in the localized economy. It would be nice if abandoned homes could be fixed up for a family in the neighborhood instead of by a landlord who hopes to make a profit charging higher rents than the area is used to. I like that they touched on possible benefits of gentrification, if the community's needs and wants are taken into account and respected when development takes place.

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Average Rating: 5stars  weighing the positive and negative aspects of gentrification, Monday, February 04, 2019

By Chelsea Shea :

It was interesting to learn about the differing impacts gentrification can have on people of different socioeconomic, cultural, and age groups. There are clearly positive and negative effects on each group, which highlights the importance of continued research and conversations regarding whether gentrification is a barrier or could be beneficial to the populations we serve. Even if research proves that gentrification is healthy for underserved populations, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their income will allow them to live there, and therefore benefit. Dr. Smith and Dr. Lehning mention displacement and losing a sense of community as key concerns for low-income and minority populations experiencing gentrification. This stood out to me as a social worker that uses a strengths-based perspective because a strong sense of community is often a major strength for clients in terms of social support and emotional well-being. It was encouraging to hear about the increasing number of fields taking on a social work approach to understanding the overall well-being of individuals. Whereas, physical and mental health are both extremely important, they are not separate and certainly influence one another. Additionally the concept of social health should be increasingly emphasized in these fields, as this has immediate impacts on physical and mental health. Gentrification seems like a topic all social workers should be knowledgeable about so that we can advocate for our clients that are likely to be affected.

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Average Rating: 4stars  what can we do better? , Monday, February 04, 2019

By Eliza Wetherby :

As a current MSW student who is working with the elderly population, I enjoyed listening to this podcast and the insight that Dr. Smith and Dr. Lehning had to offer. Seeing our elderly population in nursing homes and assisted living homes is painstaking. When I walk into a nursing home or an assisted living facility, every single patient looks miserable and upset, as I would be if I were placed in such a facility as well. There's this very strong popular belief that nurses and aids in nursing homes and assisted living facilities don't enjoy their job in which turns to unkind and unfair treatment to patients as a result. How true and accurate that belief is, I suppose we don't really know and we may never know. However, there's this serious need to create aging-friendly communities as mentioned in the podcast. My question regarding this is how can we create an aging-friendly community by ensuring the best, most ethical practice, while also making is as homey and as comfortable as possible even though some communities may be scraping for funding? When funding and finances aren't necessarily possible, how can we create this for our baby boomers?

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Average Rating: 4stars  importance of staying in place for well being, Sunday, November 04, 2018

By David G. Markham :

This podcast provides good information.

Gentification is not the only influence on changing neighborhoods. A bigger issue is land use and zoning issues. I grew up and lived most of my life in a college town, Brockport, NY. The village has been taken over by college housing. The old neighborhoods have been destroyed. Last year I sold my house at age 71 on a street that was all college housing except my house. I was the last owner occupied house on the street. When I sold it to a college landlord, the whole street now, over 30 houses are used for rentals. I loved my house which was a federal style brick house with 5 bedrooms and a carriage barn which would be worth $250,000.00 a mile away in Clarkson. But because of where it is located I got $80,000 for it.

My mother's house where I was raised and where she lived since 1946 was sold in 2005 and is now college housing.

With Halloween just passed, I am reminded again at the lack of families and children trick and treating. Any partying is being done by intoxicated college students who, with Halloween, have another occasion to drink.

I grieve for the loss of the village and neighborhoods where I grew up and raised my familly. Luckily, even though I am a Social Worker, I had some resources to move.

Having done drug free communities prevention, the Community That Cares model specifies attachment to neighborhood as a protective factor reducing the likelihood of dlinquency, substance abuse and teenage pregancy. Stability of residence and place is a huge protective factor in maintaining, if not enhancing social functioning.

Thank you for the interesting podcast describing this protective factor as it also impacts the health and well being of seniors.

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