Levy-Storms Receives Award to Create Community-Engaged Course on Aging

Lené Levy-Storms, associate professor of social welfare and geriatrics, is one of four UCLA faculty members selected to develop new classes that have an impact on Los Angeles and beyond, thanks to the fourth annual Chancellor’s Awards for Community-Engaged Scholars program. Levy-Storms will use the $10,000 award to develop “Frontiers in Human Aging: Biomedical, Psychosocial and Policy Perspectives,” a core course for the UCLA Luskin gerontology minor. The class will explore human aging through several disciplines: biology, physiology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public health and policy. Levy-Storms will add a formal community engagement aspect focused on intergenerational interactions aimed at shattering ageism. “Students will learn things in this course that will be helpful for the rest of their and their families’ and friends’ lives,” Levy-Storms said. “My vision for the future is not just young students learning about older adults, but rather different generations relating to and communicating with one another, learning how to help each other thrive in whatever life stage they are — together.” Supported by the UCLA Office of the Chancellor and the UCLA Center for Community Engagement, the awards enable faculty members to enrich the university’s curriculum through courses featuring collaborative learning experiences with community partners. This year’s awards will lead to new classes offered during the 2024-25 or 2025-26 academic calendar.

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Levy-Storms to Moderate Elder Care Discussion

An increase in life expectancy and a decrease in birth rates are leading populations around the world towards an aging society. According to the Urban Institute, there are over 54 million Americans today that are age 65 and older. By 2040, this number will increase to 80 million.

In this webinar, we explore how to live a long and healthy life by focusing on the latest AI technology and psychosocial care methods that can physically and mentally empower the older adult population.

On the technology side, we hear from two experts from Japan, a nation with the highest proportion of aging citizens of any country in the world: Yoshiyuki Sankai, the developer of the world’s first wearable cyborg HAL, and Takanori Shibata, the inventor of PARO, the therapeutic seal robot.

On the mental health side, psychotherapist and Geriatric Medical Social Worker Shiori Lange LCSW will discuss how psychosocial approaches can help older adults and their loved ones.

UCLA Associate Professor Lené Levy-Storms will be moderating the panel.









Lené Levy-Storms, Ph.D. (Moderator)
Associate Professor, Department of Social Welfare and Medicine/Geriatrics, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Shiori Lange, LCSW
Psychotherapist and Geriatric Medical Social Worker

Yoshiyuki Sankai, Ph.D.

Takanori Shibata, Ph.D.
Chief Senior Research Scientist, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology



Kindness and Aging (Common Ground Series)

Kindness and Aging pairs Artist and UC Santa Barbara Art Department Professor Jane Callisterin conversation with Dr. Lené Levy-Storms, Hartford Faculty Scholar Departments of Social Welfare and Medicine/Geriatrics, Bedari Kindness Institute, UC Los Angeles. They will discuss concepts of kindness and its implementation in our communal world. Callister will address “kindness” as a theme in contemporary art practices and her new body of work It Started with a Crocofish created in collaboration with her father. Levy-Storms’ research addresses the role “kindness” as it intersects with modes of communication and caregiving to older adults living with Alzheimer’s and chronic disease and optimizing urban spaces for the well-being of the low-income community elders.

Jane Callister was born on the Isle of Man, UK in 1963 and is now a Southern California based artist who works across the mediums of painting, sculpture, drawing and installation. Over the past 20 years Callister has exhibited in many notable exhibits including The 1st Prague Biennale at the Veletrizni Palace Prague, Czech Republic; Extreme Abstraction at the Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, New York; and was included in the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA. Recent solo exhibitions include Baroco-pop at Royale Projects, Los Angeles (where she is currently represented) and It Started With a Crocofish; New Drawings by Jane Callister at the VITA arts Center, Ventura, CA. Callister’s work has also been featured in notable publications such as: Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting with essay by David Pagel and LA Artland by Chris Krauss. Her work is in numerous private collections as well as The New Museum, New York and The Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY. In 2019 ArtSlant, an online archive that featured her work, was accepted into the Library of Congress and the NYARC (New York Resources Consortium).

Lené Levy-Storms is an Associate Professor in the Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare at the Geffen School of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics at UCLA, and serves on the advisory board for the Bedari Kindness Institute at UCLA. This fall she teaches a seminar on the intersection of kindness, COVID, and social well-being. Dr. Levy-Storms’ primary research has focused on communication processes underlying social support and on caregiving for older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Since 2004, she has partnered with Susan Kohler, a speech and language therapist and author of a book titled: “How to Communicate with Alzheimer’s”, to develop a behavioral, video training program for both family and non-family caregivers. With funding from the National Institute on Aging, the Hartford Foundation, the American Medical Director’s Association, and the National Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. Levy-Storms developed methods of evaluating caregivers’ communication behaviors among a variety of caregivers and long-term care settings. Her other recent research has explored: 1) how best to design an urban park for low-income, diverse older adults in downtown Los Angeles to optimize their well-being and social support, 2) communication issues faced by caregivers of older adults living with diabetes and dementia in the Veteran’s Administration (VA), and 3) communication issues between older adults with advanced chronic diseases and healthcare providers as their treatment needs progress.

The Common Ground: Artist Reimagining Community multi-part transdisciplinary lecture series pairs an artist and researcher in conversation to discuss concepts of “community” from their disciplines. Future fall semester 2020 discussions include Judaism and Global Voices, Home Sweet Home: Homeownership and Community Building, and Latinx Identities: Performing Community Formation. Adjunct Visual Art Department professor Jennifer Vanderpool, Ph.D. created the programming for these lectures in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition (October 30, 2021-March 5, 2021) of the same name guest curated by Vanderpool. Inspired by mutual aid societies, Vanderpool integrated the participatory strategies of social practice art that organizes communities in debate and collaboration with curatorial activism approaches that challenge the assumptions and erasures of voices in hegemonic narratives to develop Common Ground: Artist Reimagining Community.

An Outdoor Oasis for Angelenos in Their Golden Years A Westlake park designed for older adults brings UCLA Luskin research to life

By Mary Braswell

At Los Angeles’ new Golden Age Park, garden beds are raised far above ground so that visitors can tend to flowers and vegetables without stooping down.

Lawns, pathways and exercise areas are laid out on one seamless plane — a stumble-proof surface for those who move about with canes, walkers and wheelchairs.

Once a vacant lot, this tranquil green space was designed with older adults in mind — the culmination of research spearheaded by a team from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“It’s a little oasis in the city, less than a third of an acre,” said Urban Planning Professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who launched the study of senior-friendly open spaces that would eventually evolve into a blueprint for Golden Age Park.

Expanding knowledge to bring real change to people’s lives is a core part of UCLA Luskin’s mission. But researchers rarely see their ideas brought to life so vividly, Loukaitou-Sideris’ team agreed.

At Golden Age Park, visitors can stroll along circular walkways, build strength and balance on low-impact exercise machines, practice their gardening skills, or simply rest in areas designed for socializing or solitude. Shade trees, roses and purple sage create a pocket of nature on a street lined with apartment buildings.

The park’s architects relied on a toolkit called “Placemaking for an Aging Population” that was created by Loukaitou-Sideris’ team of urban designers, planners and gerontologists. The guidelines were shaped by case studies from around the world as well as input from older adults just around the corner.

The team reached out to St. Barnabas Senior Center, which serves the largely low-income and minority residents of Los Angeles’ Westlake neighborhood, just west of downtown. In focus groups conducted in Spanish, Korean and English, St. Barnabas regulars said they did not feel comfortable going to nearby MacArthur Park but would welcome a safe and accessible outdoor space geared toward their age group.

Loukaitou-Sideris’ team also partnered with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a nonprofit devoted to increasing access to parks and gardens, particularly in communities of color. The group had been eyeing a lot at 739 S. Coronado St. — just a three-minute walk from St. Barnabas — hoping to convert it into a park.

With support from numerous foundations, government agencies and neighborhood partners, the trust purchased the lot, which had sat vacant for nearly 30 years. And with guidance from Loukaitou-Sideris’ team, Golden Age Park came to life.

“This is a model for how to work with local universities and thought leaders to put research into practice,” said Chandelle Wiebe, director of development and communications for the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust.

Shortly after its November grand opening, Loukaitou-Sideris visited the park with other members of her research team: Lené Levy-Storms, associate professor of social welfare and geriatric medicine; Madeline Brozen MA UP ’11, deputy director of UCLA’s Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies; and Lia Marshall, a doctoral candidate in social welfare.

Loukaitou-Sideris recalled the inspiration for the study. “It all started in Taiwan,” where years earlier she had visited a park crowded with older adults enjoying the benefits of outdoor recreation. In the United States, by contrast, many parks are constructed with children in mind, and the over-65 population often feels unwelcome.

“I had been doing this work on parks,” she said. “But I am not a gerontologist.”

“And I had never built a park,” said Levy-Storms, whose research in gerontology focuses on intergenerational communication.

The two created the team that applied for a grant, conducted interviews, studied park accessibility in other cultures and eventually produced the toolkit for senior-friendly open spaces, which has been honored by the American Planning Association.

“This park is so reflective of our research because it brings together urban design, planning and gerontology,” Brozen said as she and her colleagues admired the age-appropriate features of Golden Age Park:

  • Pathways form a loop lined with distinctive landmarks to guide those who sometimes lose their way.
  • A sloped ramp, elliptical trainer and tai chi wheel offer opportunities for a low-impact workout.
  • High fences and a clear sight line to the street provide a sense of security.
  • Seating areas made of temperature-sensitive materials include benches with arms for those who need to steady themselves as they sit or stand.
  • A children’s play area welcomes park-goers who would like to bring younger relatives along.
  • The raised gardens invite visitors to plant and prune without having to bend.

Some of the St. Barnabas seniors said they hope the park becomes a community treasure, a place where all generations can come together to make friends, learn other languages and share the vegetables grown in the garden.

And the park is welcomed by its neighbors. At the grand opening, “a woman from the apartment complex next door was very vocal about loving this park,” said Marshall, who also lives in the neighborhood. “She said she was going to be looking out for it.”

View more photos of Golden Age Park on Flickr.

Golden Age Park

UCLA Luskin Planning Team Receives National Award Project about age-friendly outdoor environments is honored by American Planning Association

A project by a team from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs about age-friendly outdoor environments has picked up another honor — this time an Achievement Award presented by the American Planning Association (APA).

The winner is among 12 Achievement Award recipients chosen by a jury of planners as examples of good planning work. The recipients are recognized collectively at an awards luncheon held during APA’s National Planning Conference, which is set for May 6-9, 2017, in New York City.

The UCLA Luskin project was designated as a silver winner in the category: National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice. It had qualified for consideration at the national level by previously being honored in 2016 by the APA Los Angeles Section, which recognizes the “best of planning” from cities, agencies and nonprofits to consulting firms and individuals.

Anastasia Louaitou-Sideris

“Placemaking for an Aging Population,” funded by the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and the Archstone Foundation, was led by principal investigator and Urban Planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. It provides information about the park needs and preferences of older, low-income adults living in inner-city neighborhoods.

Loukaitou-Sideris, who is also associate provost for academic planning at UCLA, worked on the study with Social Welfare professor Lené Levy-Storms and Madeline Brozen, associate director for external relations for the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies, and program manager of the Complete Streets Initiative. Brozen is also an alumna of the Luskin Urban Planning program.

“Older adults represent a fast growing segment of the population, and U.S. cities are now beginning to realize the imperative of creating age-friendly environments,” Loukaitou-Sideris said in a previous story about the project. She said that while parks can offer many benefits to seniors, “if planners wish to see more seniors visiting parks, they should carefully consider their needs and tastes, and incorporate their voices in park design and programming. Our study seeks to do just that.”

Luskin graduate student researchers — and now alumni — for the project were Lynn Chen SW Ph.D. ’13 and Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) graduates Liz Devietti, Hannah Gustafson and Lucia Phan. Lia Marshall, a doctoral student in Social Welfare, also was on the research team.

More information about the UCLA Luskin project and a list of all 2017 APA award winners may be found on the APA website.

UCLA Luskin Researchers Receive Statewide Recognition Study on parks for senior citizens receives 2016 Academic Award of Merit from the American Planning Association’s California chapter

By Stan Paul

A team of UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs faculty and student researchers has received statewide recognition for a project to foster and fulfill the need for senior-friendly parks in U.S. cities.

In June, the researchers, led by Urban Planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, received the Award of Excellence (Academic Award) at the 2016 American Planning Association’s Los Angeles Section Awards Gala. The long-term project, “Placemaking for an Aging Population: Guidelines for Senior-Friendly Parks,” was among the “best of planning” entries representing work from cities, nonprofits, consulting firms and individuals in APA’s Los Angeles chapter, one of eight sections in California. The project is funded by the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and the Archstone Foundation.

The study has been selected for a 2016 Academic Award of Merit by APA’s California chapter. The award will be presented at the organization’s state conference in October.

In addition to providing evidence for the physical, mental and social needs that parks provide to seniors, the study includes case studies from the U.S. and around the world, as well as guidelines for planners and designers of senior-friendly spaces. The researchers also conducted focus groups as part of the study so that older inner-city residents could have their voices heard and share their firsthand information and perceptions.

“Seniors are a heterogeneous group in in terms of age, physical and cognitive capacities, and socio-cultural capacities,” the authors stated in their Design Guidelines Overview chapter. “Thus, prior to the creation of a senior-friendly park, the preferences and needs of the likely prominent users should be identified and addressed in the design.”

As a statewide award winner, the project is now eligible for consideration for the 2017 National Planning Awards.

The UCLA Luskin team also included Social Welfare professor Lené Levy-Storms and Madeline Brozen MA UP ’11, associate director for external relations for the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies, and program manager of the Complete Streets Initiative. Luskin graduate student researchers, who have since graduated from Luskin, were Lynn Chen Ph.D. SW ’13 and Urban Planning Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) graduates Liz Devietti, Hannah Gustafson and Lucia Phan. Lia Marshall, a doctoral student in Social Welfare, also was a member of the research team.

Not a Walk in the Park In new study, UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and Social Welfare scholars recommend park planning with consideration for the needs of senior citizens of L.A. County

In new study, UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and Social Welfare scholars recommend park planning with consideration for the needs of senior citizens of L.A. County

Lené Levy-Storms

Professor Lené Levy-Storms studies how social relationships affect health and health behaviors among older adults in both community and institutional settings. She employs both quantitative and qualitative methodology and uses both primary and secondary data sets for intervention and observational inquiries. Previously, Dr. Levy-Storms has studied social support networks among minority older adults using social network analysis. Her core research concerns communication issues between health care providers and older adults, specifically paid and unpaid caregivers. She is particularly interested in how social support occurs through interpersonal communication during care. In 2003, Dr. Levy-Storms received career development award from the National Institute on Aging titled, “Therapeutic Communication during Nursing Home Care,” which laid the foundation for her ongoing research agenda. In 2010, Dr. Levy-Storms became a Health and Aging Policy Fellow and began to examine policy issues related to paid caregivers in long-term care settings, and she recently published a policy brief.

With her NIA Career Development Award and subsequent funding from the Hartford Foundation, the Archstone Foundation, the American Medical Directors’ Association, and the National Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. Levy-Storms collected video- and audio-recordings of paid and unpaid caregivers interacting with older adults in various long-term care settings, which in collaboration with Susan Kohler created “Get Connected,” a communication training program for providing care to older adults living with dementia. Because of “Get Connected,” she received funding from the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute in 2021 to train long-term care facilities how to train their staffs with it as well as a UCLA Innovators Fellowship in 2022 to explore bringing it to market. The goal of using the communication strategies in “Get Connected” is to obtain an emotional connection, which can be difficult as the older adults progress to later stages of dementia. She is currently writing a proposal to use emotion recognition software to measure emotional connections during caregiving after training with “Get Connected.”

Dr. Levy-Storms has B.S. degree in biopsychology from UC Davis, a MPH in biostatistics and PhD in public health. From 1998-2000, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Gerontology and a fellow of the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. In 2000, she joined the UCLA Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics as an assistant professor. At that time, she also became an associate director of the UCLA/Borun Center for Gerontological Research, an appointment which she continues to hold. The Borun Center is based at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda, CA and focuses on applied research to improve the quality of life of older adults in long-term care settings. She now holds a joint appointment with Medicine/Geriatrics and Social Welfare. She also co-directs the UCLA Gerontology Interdisciplinary Minor since 2012.



Use of mammography screening among older Samoan women in Los Angeles county. Levy-Storms, Lené, Steven P. Wallace. (2003). Social Science and Medicine, 57(6): 987-1000


Predictors of Different Levels of Non-adherence to Mammography Screening.
Levy-Storms L, Bastani R, Reuben DB. (2004). “Predictors of Different Levels of Non-adherence to Mammography Screening: Implications for Interventions.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 52: 768-773


A Comparison of Methods to Assess Nursing Home Residents’ Unmet Needs.
Levy-Storms, Lené, John Schnelle, Sandra F. Simmons. (2002). The Gerontologist, 42, 454-461


Patterns of Family Visiting with Institutionalized Elderly. Yamamoto-Mitani, Noriko, Carol Aneshensel, Lené Levy-Storms (2002). Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 57B, (4), S234-S246


The Transition from Home to Nursing Home: Mortality among People with Dementia. Aneshensel, Carol, Leonard Pearlin, Lené Levy-Storms, Roberleigh Schuler. (2000). Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 55B, (3), S152-S162


Family Caregiver Involvement and Satisfaction with Institutional Care during the First Year after Admission Levy-Storms L, Miller D. (2005). Journal of Applied Gerontology, 24(2), 160-174.


Simmons, S.F., Levy-Storms L .  (2006). The Effect of Staff Care Practices on Nursing Home Residents’ Preferences: Implications for Individualizing Care.” Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, 10(3), 216-221.


Levy-Storms, L., Lubben, J.E. (2006). “Network Composition and Health Behaviors among Older Samoan Women,” Journal of Aging and Health, 18(6), 814-836.


Levy-Storms, L., Schnelle, J.F., Simmons, S.F. (2007). What Do Families Notice Following an Incontinence and Mobility Care Intervention in Nursing Homes? The Gerontologist, 47(1):14-20.


Carpiac-Claver, M., Levy-Storms, L. (2007). “In a Manner of Speaking: A Qualitative Analysis of Verbal Communication between Nursing Aides and Nursing Home Residents.” Health Communication, 22(1):59-67.


Levy-Storms, L. (2008). “Therapeutic Communication Training in Long-term Care Institutions: Recommendations for Future Research.” Patient Education and Counseling, 73: 8-21.


Levy-Storms, L., Claver, M., Matthias, R., Gutierrez, V., Curry, L. (2011). “Individualized Care in Practice: Communication Strategies between Nursing Aides and Residents in Nursing Homes.” Journal of Applied Communication Research, 39: 271-289.


Levy-Storms, L., Harris, L. M., & Chen, X. (2016). “A Video-Based Intervention on and Evaluation of Nursing Aides’ Therapeutic Communication and Residents’ Agitation During Mealtime in a Dementia Care Unit.” Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics35(4), 267-281.


Levy-Storms, L., Cherry, D.L., Lee, L., Wolf, S.M. (2017) “Reducing Safety Risk among Diverse Caregivers with the Alzheimer’s Home Safety Program,” Aging and Mental Health, 21(9):902-909.


Levy-Storms, L., & Chen, L. (2020). Communicating Emotional Support: Family Caregivers’ Visits with Residents Living with Dementia in Nursing Homes. Journal of Women & Aging32(4), 389-401.


Levy-Storms L. and Mueller-Williams A. (2022). Certified Nursing Aides’ Training Hours and COVID Case and Mortality Rates Across States in the U.S.: Implications for Infection Prevention and Control and Relationships with Nursing Home Residents. Front. Public Health,10:798779. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2022.798779