Portrait of Yura Lee (asian woman), assistant professor of social work

Yura Lee, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Social Work

Dr. Yura Lee is an assistant professor in the Social Work Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Dr. Lee's primary research focuses on the impact of late life transitions such as retirement and loss of a spouse on cognitive decline and the preventive role of leisure activity (e.g., mental, physical, social) participation in these relationships. She has conducted research on the risk of dementia among older individuals with lower socioeconomic status (e.g., education) and investigated the buffering effect of participation in cognitive leisure activities.

Dr. Lee has expertise in longitudinal data analyses using a large national data such as the Health and Retirement Study. In 2014, she received the Laurence Branch Research Award sponsored by the Retirement Research Foundation. This award recognized her work on investigating the role of cognitive leisure activities in the relationship between education level and risks of cognitive impairment with no dementia (CIND) or dementia among older adults. Dr. Lee used national U.S. data from Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study for this research.

Dr. Lee has participated in several studies focusing on issues such as employment status and quality of life among older Asian immigrants and health and mental health outcomes of grandparent caregivers living in rural areas. Her scholarly work on cognitive function and health outcomes among older adults has been published in journals including Aging & Mental HealthInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development, Research on Aging, and Ageing & Society.


  • Ph.D., Social Work, University of Southern California, 2017
  • M.A., Social Welfare, Seoul National University, 2011
  • B.A., Social Welfare/English Language & Literature (double major), Seoul National University, 2009

Professional Interests:

  • Risk factors for mild cognitive impairment and dementia
  • Life transitions (e.g., retirement, widowhood) and cognitive function
  • Physical, cognitive, and social activity engagement in later life
  • Interventions for persons with dementia and family caregivers
  • Cognitive health among older Asian immigrants

Recent Publications:

  • Lee, Y., Cho, Y., & Oh, H. (2020). Multiple chronic conditions and risk of dementia and cognitive impairment: Findings from the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS). Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition. Advance online publicationhttps://doi.org/10.1080/13825585.2020.1790492
  • Lee, Y., Chi, I., & Ailshire, J. (2020). Life transitions and leisure activity engagement among older Americans: Findings from a national longitudinal study. Ageing & Society, 40(3), 537-564. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X18001101
  • Xu, L., Lee, Y., Kim, B. J., & Chen L. (2020). Determinants of discretionary and non-discretionary service utilization among dementia caregivers: Findings from the REACH II study. Home Health Care Services QuarterlyAdvance online publicationhttps://doi.org/10.1080/01621424.2020.1805083
  • Choi, W., Wang, S., Lee, Y., Oh, H., & Zheng, Z. (2020). A systematic review of mobile health technologies to support self-management of concurrent diabetes and hypertension. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association27(6), 939-945. https://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocaa029
  • Lee, Y., Xu, L., Kim, B. J., & Chen, L. (2019). Leisure activity, gender and depressive symptoms among dementia caregivers: Findings from the REACH II. Aging & Mental HealthAdvance online publicationhttps://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2019.1660853
  • Kim, B. J., Chen, L., Lee, Y., & Xu, L. (2019). Quality of life of elderly Chinese immigrants: Focusing on living arrangements and social capital. Educational Gerontology45(6), 377-389. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2019.1640973
  • Lee, Y., Chi, I., & Palinkas, L. (2019). Retirement, leisure activity engagement, and cognition among older adults in the United States. Journal of Aging and Health, 31(7), 1212-1234 https://doi.org/10.1177/0898264318767030
  • Lee, Y., Chi, I., & Palinkas, L. (2019). Widowhood, leisure activity engagement, and cognitive function among older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 23(6), 771-781. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2018.1450837
  • Lee, Y. (2019). Practice strategies for dementia: Older Americans affected by dementia. National Association of Social Workers Specialty Practice Sections 2019 Fall/Winter Aging Section connections.
  • Lee, Y., Min, J., & Chi, I. (2018). Life transitions and leisure activity engagement in later life: Findings from the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey (CAMS). Ageing & Society38(8), 1603-1623. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X17000216
  • Zhou, J., Mao, W., Lee, Y., & Chi, I. (2017). The impact of caring for grandchildren on grandparents’ physical health outcomes: The role of intergenerational support. Research on Aging, 3 9(5), 612-634. https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027515623332 

Funded Research:

  • July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021. Principal InvestigatorExploring the Bio-Psycho-Social Mechanisms of Widowhood and Cognitive Function among U.S. Asian Older Adults. Pilot study subaward from Rutgers University Asian Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (under NIH/NIA Grant P30-AG0059304, PI: XinQi Dong) Amount: $34,950.
  • Sept. 1, 2018 - Aug. 31, 2021. Study Evaluator (Joined in Aug. 2019). Fortaleciendo Puentes: A Community-Based Continuum of Dementia Capable Care for Latinos. Funder: Administration on Community Living (PI The United Community Center) Amount: $984,899 (UWM: $96, 747).
  • July 1, 2018 - Dec. 31, 2020. Team Member. Assistive Technology for Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions. Collaborative Research Team Development Awards, UWM Office of Research Amount: $15,000.