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 Health, International 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:

  • Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias among older adults
  • Cognitive decline after late-life transitions including retirement and widowhood
  • Leisure activity participation and cognitive function in later life
  • Intergenerational support: grandchildren as caregivers of dementia patients
  • Health and mental health of older Asian immigrants

Select Publications:

  • 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 Health. Advance online publication. doi: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 Gerontology, 45(6), 377-389. doi: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. doi: 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. doi:10.1080/13607863.2018.1450837
  • Lee, Y., Chi, I., & Ailshire, J. (2018). Life transitions and leisure activity engagement among older Americans: Findings from a national longitudinal study. Ageing & Society. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0144686X18001101
  • 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 & Society, 38(8), 1603-1623. doi: 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, 39(5), 612-634. doi:10.1177/0164027515623332
  • Lee, Y., & Chi, I. (2016). Do cognitive leisure activities really matter in the relationship between education and cognition? Evidence from the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS). Aging & Mental Health, 20(3), 252–261. doi:10.1080/13607863.2015.1011081
  • Kim, B. J., Lee, Y., Sangalang, C., & Harris, L. M. (2015). The impact of employment and self- rated economic condition on the subjective well-being of older Korean immigrants. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 81(3), 189–203. doi:10.1177/0091415015607675