Kudos to Thea Franke, CIHR Doctoral Award Recipient

Kudos to Thea Franke, CIHR Doctoral Award Recipient

Kudos to Thea Franke who is the recipient of a 3-year CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Doctoral Scholarship.

Her work is entitled "My Neighbourhood, My Mobility, My Health: A Prospective Study of Older Adults' as they Strive to 'Age in Place'".

Thea's work addresses the fact that between 60% and 85% of adults globally are not sufficiently active. We know that limited mobility predicts mortality and is a consistent risk factor for disability, social isolation, and cognitive impairment. As health and function decline with aging, older adults' ability to engage with challenging built environments (e.g., long distances to amenities) is reduced and subsequently, mobility, health and opportunities for social engagement are compromised.

It therefore is not surprising to learn that older adults repeatedly report feeling trapped in their own homes and approximately one third of older people leave their homes on average only twice a week. Thus, elements of the built environment (e.g., sidewalks, street lights, benches, public washrooms) are essential elements that support older adults' outdoor mobility. Optimal mobility is evidently an important element of healthy aging. Yet, older adult's perception of their mobility, mobility preservation and how that changes as they age are not well understood.

The main objective of Thea's work will be to improve our understanding of how OAs experience their health and mobility in their communities and what built environment and social environment factors impede, empower, engage and/or support their mobility as they age. She will accomplish this by interviewing community dwelling older adults, as well as collecting physical activity, mobility and built and social environment data on their neighbourhoods over a period of four years.

Thea will work with CHHM's interdisciplinary research team's strong network of decision maker groups, including health care providers, city planners, policy makers and older adults to create accessible and novel tools that will be used to inform decision making (i.e. promote, implement and design environmental and lifestyle factors that are relevant to older adults mobility needs), and ultimately contribute to their independence, health and mobility.

Thea's work will be supervised by Drs. Joanie Sims-Gould (based at CHHM) and Habib Chaudhury (based at SFU).

Congratulations Thea!