Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Gillings School of Global Public Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sri Lanka Healthy Aging Study
In collaboration with the Univeristy of Jaffna, this pilot project aimed to gather pilot data on the magnitude of grandparent-grandchild networks and the quality of their interactions, as well as their level of satisfaction or enjoyment from these relationships, and their perceptions of their relationship in the context of their own aging. We also collected information on barriers and facilitators to interacting with grandchildren or engaging in other activities the elders enjoyed. This was accomplished through quantitative surveys administered to 80 Sri Lankan elders (aged 55+), as well as 15 semi-structured interviews conducted with a subset of our study sample.
Through ongoing analyses, we hope that the findings of this research will provide new and reliable information on the health status and interactional patterns of elders in the northern province of Sri Lanka, with potentially exciting implications for healthy aging and elder well-being. We hope to build off of our understanding of the routines, cultural norms, and community resources that are salient to the local community in Jaffna to apply for subsequent funding. In that larger grant, we would work to examine the relationship between grandparent-grandchild interactions and both grandparent cognitive functioning and health, and ultimately develop and implement an intervention to support healthy aging in our target population.
Co-Investigators on this project include Kathryn Hale, Truls Østbye, P. A. Dinesh Coonghe, and Rajendra Surenthirakumaran.
Sri Lanka Healthy Minds Study
This pilot project aimed to explore the health implications of changing social and economic circumstances on caregiving patterns and the health of the elderly. In collaboration with the University of Ruhuna (and here), this mixed methods study consisted of in-depth interviews as well as a household survey of 250 pairs of participants over 60 years old and their caregivers (or potential caregivers).
Data from our household survey revealed a protective association between an elderly person’s sense of contribution to the next generation (“generativity”) and their cognitive function (Maselko et al., J Am Geriatr Assoc, 2014). The qualitative data supported our quantitative findings: the perception of successful aging among the elderly was centered around activities of meaning and purpose such as spending time with grandchildren (Watt et al., Ageing & Society, 2012). This empirical evidence on generativity is significant because it points to the value of incorporating domains of socio-emotional development into old age and links it with cognitive function. Building on this work, in the future we would like to assess the impacts of the grandparent-grandchild relationship on elderly mental health and on child socio-emotional and cognitive outcomes.
Co-Investigators on this project include Truls Østbye, Melissa Watt, Bilesha Perera.
Funded by Fogarty/NIMH R21 MH009151.
J Maselko, T Østbye, and B. Perera
A novel Adaptation of the HOME Inventory for Elders: The Importance of the HOME Environment Across the Life Course
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16)
Hale K., Østbye T., Perera B., Bradley R., Maselko J.
Generativity Among Elderly in a Rural Area of Maharashtra, India: Correlates and Relationship With Quality of Life Approved.
Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 2018; 30(3): 276–285. https://doi.org/10.1177/1010539518772191
Østbye, T., Clancy, S., Stankevitz, K., Malhotra, R., Ogundare, O., Shah, V., Pati, S., Boddicker-Young, P., Maselko, J.
Ideals of and barriers to successful aging: A qualitative study of Sri Lankan older people.
Asian Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 2015; 10: 22-30
Perera B., Watt M., Østbye T., Rajapakse H., Ranabahu S., Maselko J.
The Contribution of Generative Leisure Activities to Cognitive Function among Sri Lankan Elderly.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2014; 62(9):1707-13.
Maselko J., Sebranek M., ^Hodzic Mun M., Perera B., Ahs J., Østbye T.
Correlates of hand grip strength and activities of daily living in elderly Sri Lankans.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2014; 62(9):1800-1801.
Ukegbu U., Maselko J., Malhotra R., Perera B., Østbye T.
Care-giving expectations and challenges among elders and their adult children in Southern Sri Lanka.
Ageing and Society, Jan 2013; 1-21
Watt MH., Perera B., Østbye T., Rajapakse H., Ranabahu S., Maselko J