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Elena Portacolone

Associate Specialist, Mack Center on Mental Health and Social Conflict

ELENA PORTACOLONE is an associate specialist at the Mack Center on Mental Health and Social Conflict. She also currently serves as an assistant professor at UCSF's Institute for Health and Aging.

Dr. Portacolone’s research, which focuses on the role of policies to allow older adults to remain in their community as they age, has expanded the body of knowledge on the experience of living alone in older age in the United States.

In her publications based on her ethnographic investigation of 47 older Americans living alone, she examined the likely “precariousness” of living alone in advanced age in the US as well as the trend towards the spatial age segregation of older solo dwellers. Her current research activities include an investigation of the unmet needs of older adults living in areas with high crime in the San Francisco Bay Area; an investigation of older adults living alone with cognitive impairment; and the emergency preparedness of older adults requiring a home care aide to live at home.

Click here for Dr. Portacolone's personal website and here for her blog on living alone and aging



  • Health and Aging
  • Living Alone in Older Age in the United States.

Expanded Publications

Portacolone E., Halpern J. “'Move or Suffer': Is Age-Segregation the New Norm for Older Americans Living Alone?" 
Journal of Applied Gerontology. (In Press).

Portacolone E. "Older Americans Living Alone: The Influence of Resources and Intergenerational Integration on Inequality." 
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 2014.

Portacolone E., Berridge, C., Johnson, J.K, Shicktanz, S. "Time to reinvent the science of dementia: The need for care and prevention." Aging and Mental Health 2013:1-7.

Portacolone E. "Precariousness among older adults living alone in the United States." Journal of Aging Studies 2013;27:166-174.

Portacolone E. "The myth of independence for older Americans living alone in the Bay Area of San Francisco: A critical reflection." 
Ageing and Society 2011;31:803-828.

Estes C, Portacolone E. "Maggie Kuhn: Social Theorist of Radical Gerontology." 
International Journal of Sociology & Social Policy 2009;1&2:15-25.

Phillipson, Chris, Carroll Estes, and Elena Portacolone. 2009. "Health And Development: The Role Of International Organizations In Population Ageing." in Health and Development: The Role of International Organizations, edited by A. Gatti and D. Yack. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Klinenberg, Eric, Stacy Torres, and Elena Portacolone. 2012. "Aging Alone in America." Council on Contemporary Families.